Ryoanji Temple, originally an aristocrat's country villa, was converted into
a Zen temple in 1450. In 1488, the Hojo (abbot's quarters) was restored,
and repaires were made to the other temple buildings. When these were
destroyed by fire in 1797, the Seigen-in Temple's abbot's quarters,
build in 1606, was relocated to Ryoanji Temple; this structure is the
present Hojo, which serves as the main hall of the temple.
The temple garden, which lies on the Hojo's south side, is thought to date
from the mid-15th century. A rock-and-gravel garden comprising 15 rocks
in five groupings, arranged on a bed of white gravel, it is renowned
throughout the world as the ultimate example of the karesansui, or
"dry landscape" style rock gardens, in which nature is compressed and
given abstract expression within the confines of a very narrow space.