The Gardens of Wakayama
· Visit Japan’s largest rock garden at Kongobu-ji
· Experience life in a temple with an overnight shukubo stay
Banryu-tei Garden at Kongobu-ji
The Banryu-tei, the largest rock garden in Japan, is located in Koyasan, at Kongobu-ji, the head temple for Koyasan Shingon Buddhism. At 2,340 square meters, this dry-landscape garden takes the form of two dragons, one male and one female, intertwined in a sea of clouds.
Kongobu-ji was originally founded as Seigan-ji in 1593 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–1598) upon the death of his mother. The temple was reconstructed towards the end of the Edo period (1603–1867) and was given its present name, Kongobu-ji, in 1869 at the dawn of the Meiji era (1868–1912).
The Banryu-tei was designed in 1984 and consists of 140 large granite rocks set amidst a cloudscape of pebbles and sand. The male and female dragons concealed in the swirling patterns of finely raked stones are tasked with protecting the Okuden; the inner building used to welcome highly esteemed guests such as the Emperor. The large rocks were brought over from Shikoku, the birthplace of Kobo Daishi (774–835), while the sand and pebbles were brought from Kyoto.
Kongobu-ji Head Temple
Shukubo and the Gardens of Koyasan
Connect with nature and explore the depths of your spirituality in the temple gardens of Koyasan—the mountaintop temple complex at the heart of Shingon Buddhism— through a temple stay (shukubo). Many of the temples in Koyasan feature gardens with a variety of styles that incorporate the surrounding nature into their design. Some were created by Kobori Enshu (1579–1647), a famous garden planner and tea ceremony master active during the reign of the first Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616).
Koyasan was first settled by the monk Kobo Daishi (774–835), after he returned from China following his discovery of Shingon Buddhism. The eight surrounding peaks of the mountain are said to resemble a lotus flower. The original monastery has expanded over the centuries to include 117 temples, 51 of which offer lodging for visitors.
A shukubo experience offers an unparalleled opportunity for visitors to experience temple life. Visitors can observe or participate in morning rituals, engage in meditation, and enjoy Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, also known as shojin ryori. Enjoy the beauty and serenity of Koyasan by staying overnight at one of the temples.