Kinkaku-Ji (金閣寺), literally means “The golden temple” if you can read kanji.
This is one of my favourite spot in Kyoto. I visited here twice already. I am also lucky enough to see it in the snow, twice :).
How to get there
By express Bus 101 from Kyoto station or by taxi
The express bus 101 took 30-40 mins depending on the traffic condition. Express bus 101 is the bus for sightseeing so there is always a long queue at peak hour. I hate it during the cold weather because it might be a very long wait, like an hour-long wait. The reason is simple: because the waiting line is too long and the bus has limited capacity to carry.
We took the taxi back to Kyoto station the second time we visited here. We were in a hurry so we could not wait for the bus anymore. Compare to the bus (250 yen), the taxi is costly (3500 yen, cash only). But at least it was cozy and warm. The taxi rank is just outside the temple exit.
Off the bus, a 2 min walk, we are at the entrance of the temple.
The ticket of this temple is very special. It draws with the protective symbol from the temple, which meant to give people good luck and wish them to have a happy family life. There is no date on it, and the design is always the same. So its rely on people’s honest not reuse this ticket.
Although the current gold pavilion was rebuilt around 1955 and repainted around 1987, it didn’t stop me amazed by it. The gold strangely adds more zen flavour to this wooden structure and fit in great with the Japanese landscaping garden.
The front door listed Buddhism 5 precepts:
- Harming living things.
- Taking what is not given.
- Sexual misconduct.
- Lying or gossip.
- Taking intoxicating substances, eg drugs or drink.
Walk across the front garden, it was the stunning golden pavilion on the pond:
According to the information booklet, the gold pavilion has three floors and was famous for its design. Each level has different distinct styles, which represents Shinden, Samurai and Zen. However, it’s not open for public so I never have a chance to go inside to have a look.
People are more than welcomed to walk around and have a look the outside. It was beautiful when the sun reflects on the golden surface:
Walk a little bit further, it is the backyard of the temple.
It has the typical Japanese style, and the red leaves are still on at mid-December when I first came here.
The garden wasn’t big, but there is a tea house not to be missed. It just located at the opposite of the “sutra writing area” if I remember correctly:
For a small fee, we enjoy a bowl of matcha and a small tea treat (with gold leaf!!)
The garden view from the tea house wasn’t bad either:
The tea house close relatively early (3:30 -4pm ish) so make sure leave plenty of time to enjoy the tea experience.
(the super cool uncle close to the exit)
(and the map)
Definitely recommend this place especially in the snow 🙂