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Karesansui 枯山水庭園

"Dry Landscape Gardens"

Japanese gardens in general can be divided into two broad categories: wet landscape and dry landscape gardens. Whereas wet landscape involves ponds and other elements of water, so-called "dry landscape" (karesansui 枯山水 in Japanese) utilizes rocks, stones and gravel in all sizes to create the illusion of water.


Often referred to in English simply as "rock gardens", "stone gardens" or "Zen gardens", karesansui is an element found in most Japanese gardens and is, as such, not limited to Zen Buddhism. The many Zen monasteries that can be found in and around Kyoto are, unsurprisingly, the most well-known examples of such gardens.


First and foremost, perhaps, the garden of Ryōan-ji (龍安寺) comes to mind when thinking of "rock gardens." But, as I will show on this page, karesansui is much more than just one famous garden.

Below, please take a look at some of my favourite karesansui gardens in Kyōto.

Ikkyū-ji 一休寺

The Shoin garden at Shūon-an Ikkyū-ji in Kyōtanabe City, southern Kyoto prefecture.

June 2018, Satsuki season.

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