After doing a lot of sightseeing in central Kyoto I made my way over to the eastern part of the city to visit Ginkakuji Temple. Right as I was going up to the entrance an entire busload of schoolchildren in sailor uniforms showed up and walked in with me. “The entire junior naval academy just showed up!” I remarked in my head.
Ginkakuji, aka the Silver Pavillion, used to the retirement villa of an art loving shogun and was turned into a Zen temple after his death. The reason it’s referred to as the Silver Pavillion is because it’s modeled after Kinkakuji Temple, which is known as the Golden Pavillion (also, the shogun who built Ginkakuji was the grandson of the shogun who built Kinkakuji). As you might expect, Ginkakuji has a meticulously maintained Zen garden, and on top of that it also has a sculpted sand garden with a giant cone that’s called the “Moon Viewing Platform.” If you follow the trail through the garden and up the hill behind the temple you’ll get a few glimpses of the temple complex from above as well as the nearby parts of Kyoto.