Keeping up with the tourist attractions I enjoyed in Japan that helped inspire An Ominous Book series, I am going to introduce you to a very awesome zen temple in Kyoto. A lot of people don't find Ryoanji as interesting as other temples in Kyoto. I guess considering the sheer amount of tmples that city has, there is indeed stiff competition.
It doesn't help that Ryoanji just happens to be located a few blocks away from the epicly awesome Kinkakuji. I guess a modestly decorated temple that has a rock garden isn't as photogenic as a temple covered by gold.
By making a turn to a side street from Kinkakuji and crossing some outdoor garden decoration shops you will see a rather devoid parking lot with just a small ticket booth to go inside. If you didn't know this was Ryoanji you would have possibly passed it by without even realizing it.
Once you go inside, you are greeted by several nice but modest gardens with perfectly pruned pine trees and a few cute bamboo fountains. The actual Ryoanji temple looks more like a rather pleasant middle sized house with the ever familiar wooden sliding doors and tatami mats.
And then BAM! You indavertedly bump into the famous rock garden that has puzzled zen priests for centuries. Apparently no matter where you look from the viewing deck, you are supposed to be unable to see all 15 rocks at the same time. I believe I managed to count 13 on one side.
I have been to Ryoanji on two occasions and it was always filled to the brim with locals. I will presume Kyoto does get a bit overloaded with tourists during the autumn koyo season. When you get tired of being surrounded by lots of people, there is a miniature version of the garden to stare at real close, really spiffy.
Maybe Ryoanji isn't as enticing as Kinkakuji or Kiyomizu-dera, but the entrance fee is cheap, it's just a few minutes away from Kinkakuji, and worth a quick look. I'm certain the garden would be awesome to enjoy if you had it all to yourself. If you want to do just that, either don't go during koyo when tourists are at maximum capacity in Kyoto or go reeeeally early.