Myōshin-ji Zen Gardens Kyoto,


photo reportage by Wieslaw Sadurski.


On the western outskirts of Kyoto, not far from the mountains ringing the ancient capital, lies a gently rising plain.
From ancient times the nobility kept villas there surrounded by landscape gardens with flowering plants throughout the four seasons. In time the area came to be known as “flower garden.”

Myōshin-ji is a large temple complex in northwestern Kyoto which includes about 50 subtemples in its main temple complex. Myōshin-ji was founded in 1337 when the cloistered emperor Hanazono, a devoted practicer of Zen meditation, converted his imperial villa to a temple.




Japanese gardens are designed to be viewed from inside the building,
so that you can see a contrast between the geometric shapes of the inner manmade structure
and the more organic lines of the natural scenes outside.


The Zen gardens of Myoshin-ji had concentrated landscapes of symbolic meaning into relatively small plots of land.
Typical rock garden with rocks representing islands in a flowing river of sand.

Myōshin-ji Zen Garden Kyoto, photo by Wieslaw Sadurski
Pond Myōshin-ji Zen Garden Kyoto, photo by Wieslaw Sadurski
Myōshin-ji Zen Garden Kyoto, photo by Wieslaw Sadurski

The large stones in the middle depict a head of a dragon and other stones are its coiled body protruding from cloud.

Myōshin-ji Zen Garden Kyoto, photo by Wieslaw Sadurski
Myōshin-ji Zen Garden Kyoto, photo by Wieslaw Sadurski
Myōshin-ji Zen Garden Kyoto, photo by Wieslaw Sadurski

Those gardens feature moss gardens and traditional dry landscape gardens.
Zen gardens are notable for the stark rocks-and-sand landscapes, which we tend to think of as visual renderings of satori, the state of enlightenment.