Spring had come to Kyoto. Nothing exuberant, just a few plum and cherry blossoms here and there, mixed in with fresh bamboo. The Zen garden par excellence is at Ryo an-ji, long and rectangular, raked gravel and rock. These dry gardens are meant to be contemplated, not walked in, as if looking at a Chinese scroll.
The oldest of the Zen gardens are covered in moss. I went first to the Daitoku-ji Temple, located in the Western Hills, and there found Ryo gen-in’s moss garden, constructed around 1500. It had been a cold winter, and the moss was red.