As the former capital of Japan, Kyoto has a rich history and an unusually large number of well-preserved historic temples and shrines. Kinkakuji Temple is one of those temples in Kyoto that has achieved the status of a World Heritage Site. Not many visitors come to Kyoto without catching a glimpse of the sublimely beautiful Kinkakuji Temple, also known as The Golden Pavilion.
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Kinkakuji Temple is an outstanding, gold-plated pavilion, scenically located in the Kitayama district at a tiny lake with small islands and pine trees as the setting. Mirror images of the trees reflected in the water surround the ever-picturesque Golden Pavilion. The small pond, the Kyokochi Pond, was once filled with lotus plants. Due to its scenic location and its golden appearance, this is undoubtedly one of the most famous temples in the entire country.
Originally, in 1397, it was built as a retirement pavilion for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408). Ashikaga Yoshimitsu acquired the land around the lake from the statesman Saionji Kintsune. After the shogun’s death in 1408, the temple was eventually converted into a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple in accordance with the shogun’s wishes. Later, the temple was renamed Rokuonji after the shogun’s religious title.
The pavilion is an intriguing mix of three architectural styles. The ground floor is constructed in the architectural style of the Heian period (794-1185). This floor features a veranda and a fishing deck. The middle floor is laid out in samurai style and has the Buddha Hall with a shrine dedicated to Kannon, as well as painted walls and ceilings decorated with birds. The top floor is designed in Zen architectural style. Most famous, the temple is probably for its opulent golden appearance.
This is infinitely close to pure beauty. The panoramic setting is like an embellished naturalist painting and a true masterpiece of Japanese architecture.
Kinkakuji Temple – The Golden Pavilion Kyoto
Kinkakuji Temple has been subject to both fires and wars (the Onin War 1467-1477). The pavilion has burnt down several times throughout history and has miraculously been as splendidly and luxuriously rebuilt every time afterwards, latest in 1950 when it was set on fire by a monk.
In the 15th century, the uniqueness of Kinkakuji Temple inspired the construction of another impressive temple in Kyoto, namely Ginkakuji Temple (The Silver Pavilion).
Sakura Terrace features spacious public baths & sauna in the heart of Kyoto with a convenient location near Kyoto Station.
OYO Carta Hotel Kyoto Gion is a hotel with modern rooms located in the heart of Kyoto close to Gion, the Kamo River and the Kiyomizudera Temple.
If you are based in Tokyo and plan to make a trip to Kyoto, then you can find inspiration in our 3-day itinerary for Kyoto and Nara which includes Kinkakuji Temple and other significant temples and shrines in Kyoto. It also includes the top sights in Nara – Japan’s first capital – which can easily be reached by train on this same trip.
For more insight into Kyoto’s amazing temples and shrines — and to find out which ones you should include in your Kyoto itinerary — besides the Golden Pavilion, you can also read 11 Must-See Temples and Shrines in Kyoto where you will get an introduction to some of the absolute top shrines in Kyoto.
If you need general travel tips for Japan, you might want to take a look at our Tokyo travel guide, which provides useful facts about Tokyo and Japan, including what to see & do, accommodation options, price level, climate, transport and safety:
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