Known as the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji is a wondrous temple located in the heart of Kyoto. Though officially named Rokuon-ji, this Zen Buddhist temple is one of the most famous buildings throughout Japan. Kinkakuji brings thousands upon thousands of locals and tourists every year to see its golden pavilion and in this article, we will share why it's so popular and more!

The History of Kinkakuji

Completed in 1397, Kinkakuji was originally owned by a very powerful statesman by the name of Saionji Kintsune, which was later purchased by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and transformed into the Kinkakuji we know of today.

In 1408, after the death of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Kinkakuji became a Rinzai sect Zen Temple to honor his will. Though the grounds of Kinkakuji held many other buildings, they were all burned down during the Onin War. In 1950, the golden pavilion was burned down by a novice monk, though the pavilion was rebuilt in 1955.

The pavilion itself is three stories high and was rebuilt to match the original as closely as possible. Throughout the years, it has been renovated and additional coats of gold leaf were added, and the roof was restored in 2003.

Highlights of Kinkakuji

Incorporating three different styles of architecture, the pavilion uses Shinden, Zen, and Samurai styles to make up the three stories. The first floor is known as "The Chamber of Dharma Waters" and uses the Shinden style. The second floor is known as "The Tower of Sound Waves" and focuses on the samurai style of architecture. Finally, the third floor is known as the "Cupola of the Ultimate", which utilizes the Zen style of architecture.

Surrounding the pavilion is a beautiful pond where you can witness cranes sometimes perched on the small islands. There are many spots along the garden to enjoy the view of the pavilion and the surrounding buildings of the complex.

As Kinkakuji is very popular among the Japanese and tourists, it is best to get there a bit early, though the best times of the year to visit are usually in the autumn season, but the absolute best time to visit has to be the winter season.

Beautiful Kinkakuji Winter Views

During the winter season, Kyoto is blanketed by a serene coat of snow that makes this ancient capital a winter wonderland. Match this with the golden presence of the Kinkakuji pavilion and you have a sight that is as breathtaking as it is beautiful.

On days where the wind is quiet and still, the reflection of the pond resembles a mirror and you can see the pavilion perfectly in the water. It is one of the most iconic scenes of Kinkakuji that anyone could ever experience, so if you get a chance to visit during the winter, make sure you don't forget your camera!

From Kyoto Station to Kinkakuji

The easiest way to get to Kinkakuji from Kyoto Station is to take the Kyoto City Bus #205 which leaves from bus terminal B3. There is a local and a rapid service available, but make sure to take the local as the rapid service does not stop at Kinkakuji Temple.

There are also the #101 buses which all stop at Kinkakuji and provide service announcements in English and in Chinese. You can find this bus at bus terminal B2 and it takes a little more than 30 minutes to arrive.

Kinkakuji Hours and Access Information

The Kinkakuji complex and grounds are open to the public from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day with no holidays. Admission to the grounds is 400 yen for adults and 300 yen for elementary and middle school students.

Spot information

  • Spot name: Kinkakuji
  • Street address: 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu 603-8361
  • Access: Around a 30-minute bus ride from Kyoto Station Bus Terminal B2 #205 Local bus, or B3 #101 buses