Kinkakuji, The Golden Pavilion (金閣寺)
Perhaps one of the most remarkable landmarks of Kyoto. The gold-leaf-covered temple is often depicted with its reflection from the Kokochi or “mirror pond” and surrounded by small rocks and pine trees. The Kinkakuji (金閣寺, literally “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”) is a Zen-Buddhist temple and also one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are among the UNESCOWorld Heritage Sites. While the image itself is pleasing, it is more breathtaking if viewed in person.
The building was constructed in 14th century originally as a residence of retiring Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. After his death, the structure is converted into a Zen temple in accordance with his wish. The temple was razed several parts during its history: among these is during the Onin War, when virtually entire Kyoto was destroyed by fire; and during 1950 when it was deliberately burned down by a deranged monk. The temple was rebuilt five years later. Nowadays, it serves only as a storehouse of sacred relics.
While in reality, the site itself is wondrous, taking a proper photo is often difficult due to the influx of tourists. After paying ¥400 for the admission we immediately start to walk around the complex. Being one of Kyoto’s most famous landmarks, the site is often crowded with tourists. Yet the grandiose temple still stands among the crowd, with the splendor of Kinkakuji clearly visible and its golden glare reflecting on the pond. To preserve its beauty, visitors are forbidden to enter the pavilion, but you can glimpse its interiors from the inside.
After seeing the Kinkakuji, we walked straight through the path until we reached the temple gardens. The Anmintaku Pond can be found here, which according to legend it never dries up. There are also statues where tourists toss their coins. At the end of the path is a tea garden. Outside, there are long rows of shops selling souvenirs and foods such as nuts and rice cakes (where we cannot resist grabbing a free taste).
In less than an hour, we managed to walk around the entire complex. But perhaps, this is the longest time that we spent staring at the pavilion’s captivating beauty. Your visit to Kyoto will not be complete without paying a visit to the spectacular Kinkakuji.
Kinkakuji is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
Take bus numbers 101 or 205 from Kyoto Station to the Kinkaku-ji Michi bus stop. If you are coming from another part of the city, you can also take the number 59 and 12 buses to the Kinkaku-ji Mae bus stop.