Kinkakuji Golden Pavillion 金閣寺, Kyoto
In Northern Kyoto, Kinkakuji is also known as the Golden Pavillion, its exteriors covered by pure golden leaf. Officially named as Rokuon-ji which means Deer Garden Temple”, tourists flock this two-story retirement villa of the late shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. The Golden Pavillion as it is today was renovated last 1955, as it has been burned down over and over again in history including one fanatic monk. Whether it be during winter where the golden phoenix sitting on top of the roof is covered with snow, or shimmering in golden splendor during the height of summer, nobody can resist visiting the Kinkakuji.
Although the Kinkakuji is closed to the public, one can see the relics and statues of the shogun and Shaka Buddha on the first floor when at a certain angle. On the other hand, the second floor holds statues of the four heavenly kings as well as Kannon Bodhisattva or the Goddess of Mercy. The design of Kinkakuji was an important model for several other Kyoto heritage sites including the Ginkakuji (Silver Pavillion Temple) and Shokokuji.
It’s truly beautiful to see something completely covered in gold, and is one of Japan’s iconic structures. Visitors can chance upon throwing coins at statues for good luck and see the Anmintaku Pond, which is said to never dry up regardless of seasons.
Amulets for good luck, health and prosperity are sold to tourists, and can be bought as omiyage.
Like other tourist destinations, the Kinkakuji also has a food market where people can buy street food such as Matcha ice cream, tofu buns and Black Okonomiyaki buns. I find the buns weird though, as it tastes similar to Chinese dimsum.
Kinkakuji is another place in Kyoto you must add to your itinerary, and I recommend one traveling by foot from Ryoanji Temple instead of paying 230 yen to ride the bus.
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Navigation and Map: How to Get to Kinkakuji
Location: 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8361, Japan
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 9:00am – 5:00pm
The best way to reach Kinkakuji is from Arashiyama Station. Take the Kyoto City Bus 59 towards Kinkakuji-michi. If you are coming from JR Kyoto Station, take Bus 101 or 205 which would take you at least 40 minutes depending on the traffic conditions.