As you stroll through a tree-lined passage and pass through the walls surrounding the outer gardens, you are soon greeted with the sight of a gold-coloured 3-storey pavilion. The reflection it makes in the waters of the pond surrounding it is an unforgettable sight, a golden twin of the pavilion reflected under the sun. Due to that, it is called ‘The Golden Pavillion’, but is better known by its Japanese name, Kinkakuji.
Kinkakuji is a Zen temple first built in 1397 and has burned down several times throughout the years. The current reconstruction, which is said to heavily resemble the original building, was built in 1955. Kinkakuji’s 3 floors were designed following 3 different architectural styles.
The first floor, The Chamber of Dharma Waters, emphasizes on open space and uses natural, unpainted wood and white plaster, in the shinden-zukuri style of Heian palaces. Its walls are made from shutters that can be raised, allowing views of statues of Shaka Buddha and Yoshimitsu, the original owner of Kinkakuji.
The second floor, The Tower of Sound Waves, has sliding wood doors and latticed windows, in the buke-zukuri style of samurai residences. Inside, there is a seated goddess of mercy, Kannon, surrounded by statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. Unfortunately the statues are not shown to public.
The third floor, Cupola of the Ultimate, is built in the style of a traditional Chinese Zen hall. The highlight is the gold leaf which covers both the inner and outer structure as well as the gold phoenix ornament at the pinnacle of the building.
What to Eat at Kinkakuji
Teahouse serving Japanese green tea and traditional Japanese snacks like mochi or senbei, shops selling snacks leading towards Kinkakuji, especially seasonally flavoured soft-serve ice-cream.
What to See at Kinkakuji
Kinkakuji, views of Kinkakuji and the surroundings from atop the hill, Anmintaku Pond that is said to never dry up, statues that people throw coins at for luck, the head priest’s former living quarters, Sekkatei Teahouse, Fudo Hall.
What to Buy at Kinkakuji
Traditional Japanese snacks and souvenirs.
■How to Go to Kinkakuji
Kinkakuji is a 40 minute journey via direct Kyoto City Bus number 101 or 205 from Kyoto Station.
Alternately, you can take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station (15 minutes) and then a bus (10 minutes, bus number 101, 102, 204 or 205) to Kinkakuji.
■Official web site in English:-
■Opening Hours and Fees of Kinkakuji
■Opening Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
■Closing Days: None
■Admission: 400 yen