Continuing on our tour of Japanese temples is the beautiful Kinkaku-ji 金閣寺, also known as the Golden Pavilion.
Kinkaku-ji is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto, whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. It overlooks a small lake and glistens in the sunlight in such a beautiful way.
The grounds of the temple are just as stunning as the temple itself, with ponds and trees surrounding the paths and walkways.
From the minute you step into the grounds of Kinkaku-ji it’s a little bit crazy. There are huge crowds and lots of people here as this is one of the most popular temples in Kyoto.
After you buy your tickets you simply follow the crowds and the winding trails that leads you around the grounds of the temple and takes you to the best places to view the temple itself. It’s kind of like a one way road, with everyone moving in the same direction and stopping to take photos at the same places.
Around the temple there are also several different coin tosses, where visitors can make a wish and toss their coins at some of the small statues for good luck. The signs around the coin tosses were all written in Japanese, so we couldn’t read what they said, but they kind of gave the grounds a little something extra which was lovely.
Outside the grounds there are also several souvenir shops and a tea house when you can purchase matcha tea and sweets if you would like.
Expectations for your visit to Kinkaku-ji
Of all the temples we visited in Japan, the Golden Pavilion would probably have to be our least favourite, which was unfortunate because it had nothing to do with the temple itself. While the temple was so beautiful, the grounds were absolutely packed with people, with very little room to move, making it difficult to get a good view, take photos or even just get a moment to yourself.
Due to the much smaller nature of the temple, it kind of felt like we were rushed through the grounds with the sea of people that were there. We visited in the late afternoon, so if you’re heading out to Kinkaku-ji it’s a good idea to try and get there early in the morning to beat the crowds and enjoy a more relaxed visit.
Getting to Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji can be accessed from Kyoto Train Station by direct Kyoto City Bus number 101 or 205 in approximately 40 minutes. Alternatively, it can be faster and more reliable to take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station and then take a taxi or a bus numbers 101, 102, 204 or 205 to the front of the temple.
Admission to Kinkaku-ji costs ¥400 (about $5.30 AUD) and the temple is open from 9am to 5pm daily.
Kinkaku-ji Temple || 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8361, Japan
More temples around Japan
During our trip to Japan we visited lots of different temples. Some of our favourites include –
- Senso-ji – the oldest temple in Japan
- Fushimi Inari-taisha – the temple with all the orange torii gates
- Meiji Shrine – right in the heart of the city, near Harajuku Station