There is rarely a comparable place in Japan to be found, a place that will captivate its visitor in such a unique and astonishing way. The perfectly kept garden, the golden temple itself, the surrounding grounds and also its location at the small, peaceful lake… it´s as if you stepped into some sort of timeless wonderland, walking ancient pathways, with its magic bringing back an desaturated era just to change into a vivid and colorful symphony again right in front of your very own eyes.
I hope you can imagine some of its beauty by looking at those pictures. The light making its way through rustling treetops, filling the air, it seems to be almost supernatural in its beauty and grace.
So far, I´ve been lucky to visit Kinkaku-ji on a warm and sunny day, which contributes a lot to this mood. In springtime, especially during sakura, Kyoto is crowded with tourists from all over the world. I personally try to avoid this time of the year to visit Kyoto, as summertime, winter and fall all offer great alternatives.
Kinkaku, since 1994 on the World Heritage list, translates to “Golden Pavilion,” and names the main building of the temple (Rokuon-ji , “ji” = temple). Around 1220, it used to be the residence of Kintsune Saionji.
Yoshimitsu, the third Shogun of Ashikaga, came to the throne in 1394. After three years, he started to set up Kitayamaden, doing everything he could in order to make this place unique. After Yoshimitsu´s death, the site was redesigned according his wish to be a Zen-temple. Unfortunately, these buildings were unable to withstand the tides of time. With one exception: Kinkaku, the Golden Pavillon. And its beautiful garden also still exists to our present time.
Kinkaku, or “Shariden” as it was originalled being called, consists of three different architectural styles:
The first floor was designed in „Shinden-zukuri“, (palace style) being called „Ho-sui-in“
The second floor, „Buke-zukuri“, has been built in the style of a samurai house, is called „Cho-on-do.”
The third floor, “Kukkyo-cho.” was built in the “Karayo“-style or Zen temple-style.
The second and third floor were coated with a special gold paint, renovated in 1987 and finished in 2003.
From here, you also have a great view of the famous “Hidari-Daimonji” mountain to your left.
How to get to Kinkaku-ji:
Directly in front of the compound, there´s a bus stop (Kinkakuchi-michi), but you can also take a taxi to and from there. It´s not expensive, and if you are two or more people, it´s even cheaper. The kind taxi drivers will also help you if you got questions or need to know how much it is.