Oct 2023 03
Ryotan-ji Temple

Ryotan-ji Temple | The croaking of frogs leaves a lush and pleasant afterglow. A dreamy white sand garden.

龍潭寺 | 蛙の鳴き声が青々と心地よい余韻を残す。夢幻的な白砂の名庭

Green and moss-covered approach. After passing through the bright bamboo fence of young leaves, the temple gate with a lyrical appearance typical of a Zen temple appears.


Ryotan-ji Temple is the family temple of the Ii clan since the founder of the Ii clan, Kyoho Fujiwara. It is a temple of the Myoshinji branch of the Rinzai sect founded in Iinoya, Totomi Province (now Shizuoka Prefecture) by Gyoki during the Nara period. When Naomasa Ii became the lord of Sawayama Castle, Koten relocated it to the foot of Mt. Sawayama. With many branch temples in the vicinity, it became a large dojo for learned monks.


The Hojo built in the early Edo period is one of the few Hojo buildings in Hikone. The 104 fusuma paintings of the Hojo were painted by Koroku Morikawa, one of the Jutetsu Bashōmon, and are designated as cultural assets of the city along with the east garden.


At the end of the corridor is a large daruma doll. The Daruma Festival is held in April every year. It is said that during the Genroku era of the Edo period, ordinary people brought their own handmade daruma dolls to receive the blessings (mercy and salvation) of Daruma Daishi.


The Hojo south garden is a rock garden with 48 stones arranged on white sand, also known as the “fudaraku garden”. The Fudaraku mountain range where Kannon Bodhisattva resides is depicted. It is said that the white sand represents the ocean, the cedar fence represents the horizon, the particularly large island in the center represents Mt. Fudaraku, and the standing stone in the center represents the standing figure of Kannon.


When I visited in the young leaf season, the refreshing cry of the forest tree frog resounded.


Naosuke, the 13th head of the Ii family of the Hikone clan, loved the pond in this garden and praised it in his collection of waka poetry, Yanagino Shizuku.


Shoin east garden. With Mt. Sawa in the background, this is a grand garden with a pond and pond built on the slopes at the foot of the mountain.
Tsukiyama is built high using the foot of the mountain, and a pond is set up around the foot. At the south corner of the garden is a tall waterfall with stonework. The rocky island on the left side of the pond represents a turtle, and the tree on the right represents a crane.


During the Edo period, Ryotan-ji Temple of the Myoshin-ji school of the Rinzai sect prospered as a dojo for learning Zen Buddhism, and Ryotan-ji Temple had a university dormitory and Japan's first 'Onzuka'. At its peak, it is said that over 200 monks trained there. You learn the truth by looking at a garden, or by building a garden and taking care of plants. The “Study North Garden” was a garden for monks who were studying landscape gardening.


A comfortable space with soft light. The croaking of frogs echoes in the silence. There was a calm and majestic world where I felt as if my heart was gradually being cleansed.


about this venue

Ryotan-ji Temple

Location: 1104 Furusawacho, Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture
Phone: 0749-22-2777