Kinkakuji is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto, and indeed all of Japan. It is the singular most beautiful building I believe in the entire city and therefore my #2 recommendation for places to visit when in Kyoto.
It’s name Kinkakuji means “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” and it is appropriately named because the top two stories are covered with pure gold leaf.
About Kinkakuji Temple (金閣寺):
Kinkakuji is an impressive Zen Buddhist temple built overlooking a large pond named Kyōko-chi, or in English “The Mirror Pond”. This pavilion was built at the end of the 14th century and was originally intended as a villa for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the shogun at the time. After his death, it later became a temple.
Although the original building has burned down numerous times – once due to the Onin Civil War, and a second time in 1950 because it was set on fire by a fanatic monk – is still breathtaking to behold.
- The very best spot for pictures with the temple in the background is as soon as you enter into the garden.
- At this prime photo location there will be hoards of tourists. It is always busy from open to close, it’s inevitable. Prepare yourself mentally to hold your ground, wait patiently and seize the moment when you get a chance to have that fence area all to yourself.
- I can’t even begin to describe how crazy and pushy people can be here, the camera-trigger-happy visitors will make you want to flee as quickly as possible but try not to let them ruin your special moment viewing it. Laugh. Breathe. Smile!
- After you finish taking photos, take a step back and savor the view. (For additional entertainment, watch the crazy camera wielding people!) Then when you’re ready, continue along the path into the gardens walking slowly.
Entrance Fee: 400yen
How to get to Kinkakuji Temple:*Note that getting to kinkakuji temple will take a while as it’s located far from the city center and other tourist locations. By bus is the easiest route, although it will take some time.
- By Bus: From Kyoto station take bus #101, #205 until the stop “Kinkakuji-michi” (220yen) (time: 40-minutes or more if heavy traffic) (Check out the bus map here)