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鹿苑寺(金閣寺) Kinkaku-ji Temple

  • World Heritages Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
  • Arashiyama / Kinkaku-ji Temple Area
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Arashiyama / Kinkaku-ji Temple Area
1, Kinkakujicho, Kita-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 603-8361, Japan
  • World Heritages
  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
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Open Every Day
Date of post:2016/08/16

Prepare your visit to the Kinkakuji temple

  • Temple / Shrine

The golden pavilion, a monument honoring Buddha’s relics, is the most famous of the temple’s premises.
The second and third tiers of it are coated and gilded with real gold leaves, which amounts to 200,000 gold leaves of about 100 square centimeters each.
A common question is why was the first tier not coated with gold leaves?
You can find the answer in the Japanese way of thinking of "wabi-sabi" :beauty through a sense of austerity and antiquity.
Each of the three tiers features a special architectural style; the first floor uses the Aristocratic style; the second is the Warrior style; and the third a Chinese Zen Buddhist style.

Located in the northern corner of Kyoto city and 30 to 40 minutes’ ride by bus from the city center, the temple has a large-sized parking lot and allows wheelchair accessible vans to enter close to the entrance.
But the paths from the entrance to the golden pavilion are laid with gravel.
This may require techniques to push a wheelchair through them smoothly.

The temple has a unique admission tickets with Kanji characters written on pieces of white paper with a writing brush, which refer to the name and place of the temple, and the wish for good fortune and family’s safety.

Kinkakuji temple gathers as many tourists as the Kiyomizu-dera temple.
Therefore, it is better to visit it early in the morning, maybe around 8:45am to avoid being in a rush of tourists.
There is a halal restaurant near the temple that also vegetarian food.

Admission fees: 400 JPY for adults, 300 JPY for junior high-school students
Parking fees: 1,000 JPY an hour for cars, and 500 JPY an hour for taxis.

Date of post:2015/04/23

Visiting the temple of the gorgeous Golden Pavilion

  • Historic / Cultural Experiences
  • Special Recommendations

You may be excited on the way to the gate with the expectation to see the famous World Heritage. But you have to be careful. On the left side of the entrance path, which leads to the gate, there is a garden. The moss is very beautiful and, especially in autumn, red-colored maple leaves look nice. After passing the entrance, you will gasp in surprise because the building shining in golden color is just in front of you. Going to the left, there is a space in front of the pond, which separates you and the Golden Pavilion. This is the first and the best place to take pictures. Don’t forget to take enough pictures here.

The temple used to be a country villa of a shogun, Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, and after his death, his son made it a Zen temple according to his will.

The Pavilion was constructed in three styles. The ground floor is made in an aristocratic style, the first floor in a samurai style and the second floor in a Zen Buddhist style. This Pavilion represents the 14th century’s Kitayama culture.

In 1950, a studying monk set fire to the Golden Pavilion because he was jealous of the beauty of it and it was lost. The psychology of the monk and other details are described in the novel “Kinkakuji” written by Yukio MISHIMA. The building was reconstructed in 1955 and decorated with gold foil. The Golden Pavilion was reborn just like the phoenix on the top its roof.

A path takes you to the back side of the Pavilion and then leads you to two springs and a small waterfall. Ashikaga himself used the water of the left side spring for tea. The waterfall represents a Chinese old story in which a carp becomes a dragon by climbing up Longmen waterfall.

After climbing up a hill, you will find a tea-ceremony house, Sekka-tei. And just take a look at old Fudo-do before you leave the place.

Date of post:2015/04/23

A temple with GOLDEN PAVILLION One of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto

  • Historic / Cultural Experiences

Originally this place was a villa of a court noble named Saionji Kintsune. The 3rd Shogun of the Ashikaga Shogunate “Yoshimitsu” greatly improved it after obtaining this villa. He made a large pond and built a beautiful gilt pavilion toward the end of the 14th century.

The pavilion became to be called as Golden Pavilion or kinkaku because of its gorgeous gilding. Yoshimitsu was 38 when he retired from Shogun. He might have wanted to spend his retired life without being annoyed by political matters here. (However he exerted a great influence behind the scene). He put every effort in construction of the magnificent villa. After his death the villa turned into a Zen Buddhist Temple according to his will under the name of Rokuonji. But the temple is better known by its popular name Kinkakuji or the “Temple of Golden Pavilion”. Yoshimitsu spent his retired life at this villa in religious meditation of Zen Buddhism or aesthetic pastime such as composition of poems or tea ceremony.

Having court noblemen style life was a kind of dream for samurai class during this period.

The pavilion has three-storied structure with each floor different architectural style. The first floor is the style of court nobles’ residence, second floor is the samurai style and third floor is the temple style. Since inside is not open to the public, a board of pictures showing what each floor is like and winter scenery is hung on the wall of small hut nearby the golden pavilion.

The original pavilion had been stood there until 1950 when an insane priest of this temple set fire on it. The reconstruction work started right after destruction, and completed in 1955 at the cost of ¥30,000,000(JPY) at the time.

Upon its reflection on the pond‐Mirror Pond‐I cannot help sighing from admiration.

Other feature you should see is a 600-year-old boat-shaped pine tree. It stands in the northern corner of dry landscape garden on the right of the path.
It is said that this tree was a bonsai of Yoshimitsu. After 600 years it grew this big! The strolling route of this garden is one way. In the pond there are islets that look like a turtle and a crane. In Japan, these animals are regarded as symbols of longevity. In the pond, several golden and silver carps are swimming along with black ones. They will come closer when you clap your hand.

The temple is famous for beautiful cherry blossoms and colored leaves. The garden is covered with moss and seasonal flowers add hues to the garden.

And this is one of the most crowded sites in Kyoto throughout the year. Still, it’s worth visiting anytime.

Entrance fee; ¥400(JPY) Opening hours; 9:00-17:00

*Reference: guide text by JGA

  • * The information above is from the date of the review. Please be aware that some of the content may vary from the most recent information.
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