Most people head to Kyoto for the historical temples or the spring sakura (cherry blossoms), but Kyoto’s traditional rock gardens are a must-see. Lacking flowers doesn’t mean they lack beauty – the deliberate placement of the stones and the minimalist expressions in the sand, with pebbles placed to look like waves, are all carefully chosen to evoke a specific mood or mindset.
There’s much more than meets the eye in a traditional Japanese rock garden; many have abstract Zen dialogues hidden within their scenery, and some are stone re-creations of famous scenes from Japanese history. With a little bit of background knowledge, these static landscapes can come alive for you. Here are some of our favourite Kyoto rock gardens.
RECOMMENDED: The most beautiful places in Japan