Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion Temple in Kyoto

In this part, I am explaining about Kinkaku-ji, one the most interesting tourist spot in Japan, specifically, Kyoto. Kyoto is the best city I’ve traveled in Japan. The atmosphere feels so nice. The city is not that crowded and has a lot of traditional temple. Kinkaku-ji is just one of the most interesting of them.

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺) is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular buildings in Japan. The original (and official name) of Kinkaku-ji is Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺).

In 13th century, there was already a temple in that location. However, the noble commissioned it was put to death for conspiring against the emperor. The temple fell into a ruin. Later in 14th century, the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu fixed it up to built a new temple, which he called Rokuon-ji. When the temple was built, the ground was larger, and it completely burned down once in 1950’s by a young monk still in training. An author (world-famous) named Mishima Yukio wrote a novel about it. The name if the novel is Kinkaku-ji.

The entrance fee to Kinkaku-ji is JPY 400. I think it’s fairly cheap. The temple is open from 09:00-17:00. To access Kinkaku-ji from Kyoto Station, you can take Kyoto City Bus number 101 or 205. The fare is JPY 230 and it will take about 40-50 minutes to get there.

The entrance to Kinkaku-ji

The photo above is the entrance of Kinkaku-ji. You are not allowed to use tripod inside (too bad). But I understand the reason. The temple area is pretty large and surely there are a lot of location you might want to take photograph.

Kinkaku_02Main view of Kinkaku-ji

You will find a lot of people taking photos in the location where I took the photo above. There is a chance that you might have to wait for others to take the photo from the “best spot” but I believe that is worth the wait. Just remember that you must not use the tripod because it’s not allowed. If you travel alone and want to take a (better) self photo, you should better ask the other tourists there. They will likely able to help you. 🙂

Closer view of the front side of the temple

Do you notice the design of the temple? Each floor has a different design. The first floor is built in the Shinden style used for palace buildings during the Heian Period. Statues of the Shaka Buddha and Yoshimitsu are stored in the first floor. The statues are not clear from the picture above due to the shadow but you might be able to see and take the the picture of them if you used a lens with longer focal length.

The second floor is built in the Bukke style used in samurai residences. It has an exterior covered in gold leaf. Inside the second floor is a seated Kannon Bodhisattva surrounded by statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. Too bad the statues are not shown to public so I can’t take any picture of them.

The third and uppermost floor is built in the style of a Chinese Zen Hall. On the top of the temple, you can see a Golden Phoenix statue.

The back of the temple

This is what you see from back of the temple. Too bad we are not allowed to get close. Look at the ground and plants round the temple. I can see that they are very well maintained. The outer wall of the temple also seems quite clean. I am truly impressed how Japanese really pay attention to their historical building.

Kinkaku_04Coin Toss location

Following the way inside the temple, you’ll find a coin toss location. People throw coins there for luck (although I am not sure how it works). I saw several foreign tourists throwing some coins to the rock. Maybe they wanted to try their luck? Oh yeah, you’ll find several stores on the way too but they don’t allow you to take any photos. I simply respect their rules.

Kinkaku_07Fudo Hall

Sorry the image is not leveled properly. Either my hand were too cold or too tired at that time. It’s beyond repair unfortunately. Fudo Hall is the last location of the temple you’ll see before seeing the exit. Around this location, you’ll see some stores too. Once you reach this point, you are not allowed to go back to the previous locations. So, make sure you check other locations before checking this location.

The exit gate

I am sure the exit gate is the last part you wanna go. After the exit gate, you’ll see a stair to go down which will bring you back to the entrance.

That’s all I can share about Kinkaku-ji. If you haven’t go there and plan to go there, the best season is on fall. The view is simply more beautiful due to the color of autumn leaves. But that does not mean the other seasons are bad, going there on other season is fine too.

4 thoughts on “Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion Temple in Kyoto

  1. Were you allowed inside, do you have any photos of the interiors? I am building a model of this temple but have not been able to find any plans or interior shots. I particularly want to know where the staircase to go to upper floors is located and if you have any pics of the staircase , I would love to see it.


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