For Zen priests in Japan, stone and sand or gravel traditionally had a much bigger role than plants.
The gardens were often fairly small and designed to be viewed and contemplated from a nearby monastery. The sand represented water, especially the oceans, and the subtly arranged stones stood for islands.
Perhaps the most famous of all these Japanese dry gardens is Ryoan-ji – the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon. Created in the 15th century, the seemingly simple garden consists of 15 rocks in a rectangle of raked white gravel. Nobody fully understands the symbolic importance of the layout, but it was designed to encourage spiritual meditation.
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