A Rocky garden. Five (Woodblock) Prints of Ryōan-ji

José Vela Castillo


Five (woodblock) prints of Ryōan-ji presents five approaches to the famous dry garden located in the homonymous temple in Kyoto. The aim has been to explore through them different peculiarities of this garden, and by extension, of Japanese dry gardens of Zen inspiration. The fields explored include narrative (Kawabata), music (Cage and Takemitsu), cinema (Ozu, Iimura) and architecture (Isozaki and Mies, in passing). The main intention has not been to give a unitary vison of Ryōan-ji. Instead, like the dazzle at the end of a haiku, I tried to build a mechanism of partial enlightenments, to show, at least partially, its complex essence. A mechanism which, simultaneously, sheds light on the narrative, the music and the architecture presented. The real protagonist of the text is the particular spatiality that this garden brings to life and the temporality that goes along with it; but also the constant correspondences of the play of traces and possible meanings disseminated across the different media.


Ryōan-ji; dry Gardens; spatiality; temporality; trace

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