The Ganko Sushi chain of restaurants bought this old villa and opened a high quality and low price outdoor yuka restaurant here in 1995. The villa was originally the home of Ryoi Suminokura, a wealthy merchant in the 15th and 16th centuries. Later, Aritomo Yamagata, the statesman who also created Murin-an and one of the founders of the Meiji government, lived here and transformed the garden. The site is about 3,300 sq meters, of which 2,600 sq meters is the garden. The original garden was created by Kobori Enshu and then later modified by the prominent Meiji garden builder, Ogawa Jihei under the guidance of Yamagata.
The garden itself is composed of a winding stream, interspersed with trees and stone lanterns. A path winds through the site and it is beautifully lit, making it a wonderful place for an after-dinner stroll.
For yuka meals, you are expected to arrive between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Other lunches and dinners are also offered. It is located a five-minute walk from Sanjo Keihan Station.
Note: While yuka-style restaurants usually cost a minimum of 20-30,000 yen, this one manages to serve high quality food and drink for a maximum of 12,000 yen. A real bargain for such cuisine.
Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto
Only in the cloister
Could such a garden thrive, a soil where nature
Flowers in spiritual dryness,
Drawing an interior nurture
From sand and rock.
Where the labyrinth of illusion
No longer entangles the senses
Enmeshing vision in delusive lusters;
Where the lust of the eyes is silenced
And desire of forms, and names of forms,
Move to no visible end.
Those who planted here
Sowed no ephemeral seed
For the seasonal tempests to scatter,
But the silent root that ripens in detachment,
Flowers in renunciation.
Gardeners of eternity,
Those who planted here
Framed the garden in the image of a desert
And the desert in the image of a sea --
Then shrunk the seas to the mind's salt and, tasting,
Dissolved all thought away.
On these rocks no water breaks. Without attrition
Tides and currents in this ocean rest and revolve
In a void of sound, vortex of sand; perpetual
Circles enmesh and paralyzed sea and air:
The effigy of time and measure
Purged of time and measure
Becalmed on this dead sea of being
No wave moves, no wind of desire
Flexes the indolent sail.
But focussing its single eye
On dreamless immobility
The gulf like a burnished mirror
Regards the empty void.
In this dead sea of vision the surges
Merge without movement; the tides
Indifferent to flood and ebb
Freeze in a flux of haste.
The seagull without motion
Broods on the changeless waste,
Then sinks, his feathers frozen,
In a sand ocean.
Frail caravels who sail
This subtle gulf, morte mer,
Who stir with urgent keel
The fossil waters of the Great Mirage,
Or steer by lodestone to delusive ports:
In this calm beyond stasis, dead calm,
No compass points to the land,
No magnet of attachment
Guides the helmsman's hand
Through fifteen naked rocks in raked and rhythmic sand.
Here is no sea for the admirals,
The whalers, the merchants of cargoes --
Those finite venturers for the temporal haven.
These depths are destination,
And naufrage sweeter than harbor.
Shipwreck is haven on this inland sea.