2. A very famous Zen garden
Ryoan-ji, created in Kyoto in the late 9th century by Soami, a painter and gardener, is one of Japan's famous stone gardens-exercises in abstraction by Zen Buddhist monks.
Its absolute simplicity probably makes it the supreme example of a dry landscape garden, particularly in its use of the sacred island theme.
As the Sakutei-ki puts it: "Think over the famous places of scenic beauty throughout the land
and by making it your own that which appeals to you most, design your garden with the mood of harmony, modelling after the general air of such places".
Perhaps the creator of Ryoan-ji wanted visitors, by contemplating this barren composition, to reflect on the essence of the eternal Japan, the highest emotion they could wish from their gardens.
Or perhaps he wanted to express the inner mystery in each of us-for no matter where one stands to admire the garden, one of the 15 rocks is hidden.
Despite the many learned analyses of the meaning of Ryoan-ji, the garden remains a mystery.
But then, is it always so important to understand everything?