I happened to leave Ninnanji Temple just in time to catch a bus that took me up the road to Kinkakuji, aka the Golden Pavilion. Thanks to Kyoto’s public transit I was making good progress in my sightseeing and Kinkakuji would be far from the last place that I visited before the day was over. As I approached the entrance the growing crowds made clear that I had arrived at one of Kyoto’s more popular destinations.
Kinkakuji is a Zen temple and it is known as the Golden Pavilion because it has a pavilion that is covered in gold leaf. Originally the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu but it was converted into a Zen temple after the shogun died in 1408. All the other buildings besides the pavilion were destroyed the Onin War in the second half of the 1400s and a monk with mental health issues burned down the original pavilion in 1950. The current pavilion is a reconstruction from 1955 that is intended to be a very close approximation of the original structure.
As you can imagine, an incredibly beautiful place like Kinkakuji attracts a lot of visitors. The area with the scenic view of the pavilion from across the pond tends to get crowded but with a bit of patience you’ll be able to get the photos you want.
The tour route through Kinkakuji then takes visitors around the pond to the backside of the pavilion. Kinkakuji’s pavilion is about 12.5 m (40 ft) tall and has a bronze phoenix on the roof. Inside the pavilion are a number of Buddhist statues, however the pavilion is not open to the public.
After leaving the pavilion, visitors will follow a path that meanders through the temple’s garden area and eventually leads to the exit. When visiting the garden be sure to keep an eye out for the White Snake Pagoda that can be seen in the middle of a pond. Towards the end of the path are a few smaller temple halls and a teahouse.