The Ryutanji temple was established by the Rinzai Zen sect and later became famous as the burial place for the Hikone family, local daimyo. The garden here is attached to the Hondo of the temple and was constructed when the building was rebuilt in 1676. Features in the garden include a grass-covered sanzon (three mountain) formation stretching from east to west and split by a karetaki dry waterfall. The narrow pond, below, has turtle and stone islands. This shukkei karesansui garden depicts the literary and religious events described in Ennin's Record of a Pilgramage to China. In the story, the priest Egaku is shipwrecked. After he regains the sea, he stops at the island of Fuda-san on the way back to T'ang China and leaves a statue of the Kannon there. The garden tells the story. Fuda-san is in the center with the priest's boat anchored to the rocks. White sand represents the sea. The garden was designed by Koten, a Zen priest and founder of the temple.
5,810 sq ft.
This garden is sited on the north side of the main temple hall, facing south. It is bounded on the north and east by a steep slope. A long, narrow pond runs east-west across the garden. Its shores are dotted with small mounds of clipped hedges and medium-sized stones. On the east side of a central Horai mound is a dry waterfall arrangement of stones. The flow of the stone waterfall is toward the pond, evoking a rapids feeding the pool. In contrast to the rough edge of the narrow pond, the pond on the southern edge has almost no stones or shrubs to articulate its shore. Rather it is almost a straight line. Mori Osamu speculates this arrangement is probably based garden making texts of the late Edo period.
Mori Osamu. Teien. 1993. p 332.
With the south wind a gentle goddess came.
She soaked the bronze, she soaked the fountain,
She soaked the swallow's belly and its feathers of gold.
She hugged the tide, lapped the sand, drank the fish.
Secretly she soaked the temple, the bath-house, the theatre,
The confusion of her platinum lyre --
the tongue of the goddess -- secretly.
Soaked my tongue.
Nishiwaki Junzaburô trans. by Bownas and Thwaite 20th century