From Arashiyama I headed to Ktano-Hakubaicho. Note that you can pay 210 yen or you can use your Icoca card upon exit.
From there, I stopped over a small restaurant and had a miso soup and rice toppings for $550 yen. After filling my tummy, I rode bus 201 (you can also ride 101, 102 or 204) and paid 230 yen. Prepare exact fare as the driver cannot break your money unless its 1000 yen bill.
From the bus stop, cross the street and park your bikes before entering the temple grounds. It was past 11 am and people started pouring.
Entrance fee is 600 yen.
Most students also visit this shrine to learn about their culture (how I wish I can understand what their teacher is telling them about the place.
Kinkakuji is a Zen temple. Its top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. The temple was originally built as the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect when he died in 1408.
Kinkakuji overlooks a large pond in which it is beautifully reflected. Kinkakuji has been burned down several times in the past. The most recent time was in 1950 when it was set on fire by a fanatical monk. The present temple dates from 1955.
Each floor of the temple represents a different style of architecture. The first floor is built in the Shinden style. This style was used for palace buildings during the Heian Period. The second floor is built in the Bukke style. This was used in samurai residences. The exterior of the second floor is completely covered with gold leaf. Finally, the top floor is built in the style of a Chinese Zen Hall. This is covered with gold both inside and out, and is topped with a golden phoenix.
There are gardens to wander through after viewing the temple. This temple is very popular; don't expect to get it to yourself. You will be surrounded by other tourists.
Some sights are so much talked about and so often visited that you wonder if they can really be that wonderful. The Golden Pavilion is one such sight – and yes, it really is that wonderful. You will have to share it with many other people, but don’t let the thought of the crowds that flock here put you off. This place is a stunner and popular for good reason. I have seen advice that you should go first thing to avoid the crowds but I'm not sure the light would be so good then. We were here around 4.00 PM and the temple was beautifully lit by the late afternoon sun. So you’ll probably have to just put up with the crowds if you want to see it, and see it you should.
The “proper” name for this temple is Rokuon-ji or Deer Garden Temple, but no one seems to call it that. This is for sure the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji – no other name would suit it half as well. And no number of previously seen photos can prepare you for the sight that greets you when you arrive at the edge of the pond here and gaze across at the pavilion reflected in its waters. When you succeed in making your way to the shoreline the jostling of the crowd will fade away and you will be spell-bound – especially if, like us, you are fortunate enough to be able to see it in bright sunlight.
Like many of Kyoto’s temples, this was originally the site of a private villa, but it was converted to a Zen temple at the very start of the 15th century by the son of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, as a memorial to his father. Most of the buildings were lost in the Onin War later the same century, apart from the pavilion which survived. But in 1950 it too was lost, burned down by a novice monk, who tried to commit suicide as a result of what he had done. It was rebuilt in 1955 and that is the building we see today, a close copy of the original.
You can’t go inside the pavilion, only admire from outside, although a display panel does show some photos of the interior. This is unusual in that each floor has a different style. The top floor is a Zen meditation hall, built in Karayo style or Zen temple style. It is called Kukkyo-cho and its interior walls are also gilded. The middle floor is a hall dedicated to Kannon Bodhisattva; it is built in Buke-zukuri, the style of the samurai house and is called Cho-on-do. It holds a seated statue of the Kannon surrounded by statues of the Four Heavenly Kings, although this is not on view to the public. The lower, unpainted floor is a more secular space, designed for admiring the landscape and is Shinden-zukuri, or palace style, and is named Ho-sui-in. This, incidentally, is said to be the reason that this bottom floor is painted white on the exterior rather than gilded. The sacred upper floors which house temple halls are painted in gold, while the more worldly first floor looks like any other building. The building is topped with a golden phoenix (see photo four).
A path leads round the lake so you can admire the temple from all sides. The crowds are worst at the first viewpoint, which is where most of my photos were taken, as inevitably everyone is brought up short at this point – and also, I am sure a few visitors never progress further in their rush to “tick off” the sights of Kyoto. But do make the time to see it from all sides as you get closer on the further side – my photo of the reflection (photo five) was taken here.
But there is more to Kinkaku-ji than the golden temple, stunning though it is, so when you can tear your eyes away you can continue on the path to see the rest of the gardens.
After viewing the Golden Temple of Kinkaku-ji from most sides, the path leads you round the rest of the gardens. These have retained their original design from the days of Yoshimitsu, the Shogun who first built the temple on this spot. They are landscaped in a very natural way, with a variety of trees, bamboo, mosses and a stream, in a style known as “strolling garden”. This means that the garden is intended to be enjoyed not from a specific viewpoint (such as the famous Zen garden at Ryoan-ji, for example) but rather from a series of viewpoints as you move along its paths.
There is a lot of symbolism in the garden too, with the rocks, bridges and plants arranged in particular ways to represent famous places in Chinese and Japanese literature. The largest of the islets in the pond represents the islands that constitute Japan itself, while four rocks which form a straight line in the pond near the pavilion are said to represent sailboats anchored at night, bound for the Isle of Eternal Life of Chinese mythology. I think these may be the ones on its right in my first and third photos in my previous tip about the temple
Here and there in the grounds we came across statues and sculptures. The one in my main photo here stands on an island in another small pond, An-min-taku. It is called Hakuja-no-tsuka (the Mound in Memory of the White Snake). This pond is said to never dry up.
Near the end of the path as you head towards the exit is a small shrine known as Fudodo, where the stone Fudo-myoc (Acara) is enshrined as a guardian. Photo four was taken here. Also near here we found a couple of stalls selling snacks and bought some tasty wasabi nuts to fortify us after our long day out.
This was the last temple we managed to see in Kyoto. The afternoon was almost over and we were weary. It was time to head back to our ryokan to rest and freshen up before dinner in a nearby restaurant.
Located in the northern area of Kyoto city, this is a zen based temple covered in gold leaf (popular coating of choice of the rich in old time japan). Once upon a time ago, it was actually a retirement villa for the founder of the Ashikaga shogunate (Ashikaga Takauji) but had willed it to the Rinzi sect of Zen Buddhism (one of the three main Zen sects) upon his death in 1408.
The present structure though is not the original, but a rebuild from 1955 after it was set on fire by a monk.
The temple is right at the entrance and picturesquely surrounded by a large pond.
It cannot be entered, but the inside of the 1st floor can be viewed from across the pond
Temple ground (meticulously manicured garden) is quite small but very pretty.
In the garden there is a coin toss rock structure, where the locals try to toss a coin into a small cup to fufil their wishes.
There is also a small tea house near the exit area where you can take a break with matcha and wagashi.
Entrance fee: 400yen
Open: 9am to 5pm, no rest days.
So when someone has vision's of Japan you imagine 2 things ... first... the modern neon lights, crowded Japan and then the 2nd vision is the peaceful gardens with ancient temples ...... And the Golden Pavilion is the perfect image of Japan .... stunning and beautiful. We got crystal clear skies the day we were there ..... Spent about an hour here and saw everything ....
The image of the temple richly adorned in gold leaf reflects beautifully in the water of Kyokochi, the mirror pond.
It is perhaps the most widely-recognized image of Kyoto. Seen reflected in the adjoining "mirror pond" with its small islands of rock and pine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion," is a breathtaking must-see.
The building's first purpose was to serve the retiring Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1409) as a residence. The gold-leaf-adorned building was converted into a Zen temple shortly after his death. In an event that was later fictionalized by the renowned author Yukio Mishima, a 21-year-old monk burned Kinkakuji down in 1950. The temple was rebuilt in 1955 and continues to function as a storehouse of sacred relics.
The temple's garden is also a scenic delight and contains in its grounds a charming teahouse.
Be warned this is Kyoto's top attraction and it is extremely crowded ... we came here right when the doors open and within 10 minutes the place was packed .... mostly other Japanese tourist very few foreigner's ... entrance fee is 400 Yens ..... and you might have to wait but you'll get your chance for the perfect photo.
Three-storey Zen Buddhist temple. Each floor was done in different architectural style - the ground floor is Heian imperial architecture, the second floor typifies warrior aristocracy and the top floor is Chinese-inspired.
This pavillion is absolutely a sight to behold. It is stunning and well worth the visit. I visited in April, the air was bright and crisp, but it made for a perfect viewing day.
After viewing Kinkakuji from across the pond, you pass by the head priest's former living quarters (hojo) which are known for their painted sliding doors (fusuma), but are not open to the public. The path once again passes by Kinkakuji from behind then leads through the temple's gardens which have retained their original design from Yoshimitsu's days. The gardens hold a few other spots of interest including Anmintaku Pond that is said to never dry up, and statues that people throw coins at for luck.
Continuing through the garden takes you to the Sekkatei Teahouse, before you exit the paid temple area. Outside the exit are souvenir shops, a small tea garden where you can have matcha tea and sweets (500 yen) and Fudo Hall, a small temple hall which houses a statue of Fudo Myoo, one of the Five Wisdom Kings and protector of Buddhism. The statue is said to be carved by Kobo Daishi, one of the most important figures in Japanese religious history.
Open 9am to 5pm daily.
Admission: Y400 general admission, Y300 Primary and Middle School Students. No discount for groups.
This is one of the most famous sites in Japan, the Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion. It is situated in a very pictureque setting, but the main downside is that you can't get all that close to it.
It's a magnificent photo-op, but not much more.
Kinkakuji is one of the most iconic temples in Japan, and I had spent quite a while in the area before deciding to visit. I was worried that Kinkakuji would not live up to all the hype about it, so when I finally committed to going, I admit I was sceptical...
When I finally entered and saw Kinkakuji, I was sucked in just like everyone else! It is absolutely spectacular, and the extravagance and flamboyance of it makes it stand out all the more in a country where simplicity and attune with nature are preferred!
The temple was built as a retirement villa for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Because a crazed monk set it aflame, the current structure only dates back to 1955. On clear days, the entire vista, including the temple is mirrored in the pond; it's gorgeous!
The rest of the precints feature a teahouse, souvenir shop, statues where people toss coins, and the former residence of the temple's priest.
Entrance is 600 yen.
There are some excellent audio guides to many of the principal Kyoto temples at www.iconicguides.com, including Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Sanjusangendo, Kiyomizudera, Nijo Castle and Tenryu-ji.
The entry and exit system at the Golden Pavilion is rather unique. Entrance through ticket booth and Exit through another path which is not manned nor controlled. Virtually, everyone can get entrance to the Golden Pavilion (without paying) if they mistakenly goes through the Exit path.
I almost did but then realised that it better to follow the crowd's heading.