Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Kyoto
2 reviews from the community
Review of "Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Kyoto"
A nerdy type from Wolverhampton, now working full-time in Birmingham. Back after about two years. Trying to play catchup with ratings before I write more reviews...
Even those who are only vaguely familiar with Japan may have heard about this building, or even seen it on television or in photos. The Golden Pavillion, known as Kinkakuji Temple in Japan, was originally built in the 14th century, although the current building is a reconstruction created in the 1950s. As with most of Kyoto's attractions it has since become a World Heritage site and an icon synonymous with the city. It has such a reputation that it inspired the building of the "Silver Pavilion" (Ginkakuji) by the owner's grandson, although that building isn't made of silver.Why is the Golden Pavilion so special? Well, the answer is in its name- the temple's top two floors are covered in gold, as a symbol of affluence for the period Kinkakuji was originally built in.
The Golden Pavilion is located in Northern Kyoto and is best accessed via bus. We caught the 101 bus directly from Kyoto Station for a 40 minute journey; as with other bus journeys a one-way ticket is ¥220 and a day pass is ¥500. Alternatively, you can catch the Karasuma subway to Kitaoji station, which takes 15 minutes and costs ¥250 yen, but then you would still need to take either a taxi or a bus to the temple entrance, so I'd recommend just sticking with the bus direct from Kyoto Station.
---The Temple Itself---
First things first, you cannot actually enter the Golden Pavilion. You do pass by it- enough to see the interior somewhat- but obviously it's a sacred temple and priests still practise there. Furthermore, the most impressive part of the Golden Pavilion is the golden walls, right?
Admission is ¥400 (about £2.50 by today's exchange rate) for everyone. You follow a straightforward path from the entrance and pass by a large pond, across from which the Golden Pavilion is located. In my opinion, I feel that the best pictures of the Golden Pavilion are those taken from this distance; the temple is surrounded by both the water and several trees so it looks very impressive. I had been warned in my travel guide to wear sunglasses when looking at the Golden Pavilion when it was sunny, because the sun reflected off the golden walls, but I found that I could directly at it and take pictures with no problem (or maybe it was because I wear regular glasses).We followed the path round and crossed a bridge to get very close to the Golden Pavilion. At this point I saw how the top two golden floors greatly contrast the normal ground floor. Apparently each floor is based on a different period of Japanese architecture, although to myself I couldn't see much of a difference.
After passing close by the temple, the path carries on through the temple gardens. There are other points of interest along the rest of the way. First of all is the temple well which, despite being nearly dried up, has some historical significance. Past the well were some stone statues where people can throw coins into for luck. This gave us ample opportunity to get rid of our ¥1 coins (literally the most useless coins in Japan!), and I'm pleased to say that I got two coins in!
Towards the end of the path is the Tea Garden, which is basically a place to sit down and have a break, and Fudo Hall, a minor temple hall which houses some Buddhist statues. Fudo Hall also has some fortune-telling machines outside, where you could put money into a machine and it would print out a fortune on paper for you. I tried it out and thankfully my fortune was predicted as 'Excellent'. Having just thrown two coins into the statues near the well, I was inclined to agree!There is a little souvenir stand towards the exit selling temple charms and Golden Pavilion-themed gifts at decent prices.
The Golden Pavilion is brilliant. I'll admit that reading about it on paper didn't make it sound too impressive, but seeing the building before my eyes and in its beautiful surroundings made me appreciate it a lot. You should definitely take the opportunity to see the Golden Pavilion for yourself if you are ever in Kyoto, because it is truly a sight to behold!
Opening Times: 9am - 5pm (no closing days)
Product Information : Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Kyoto
Manufacturer's product descriptionAttraction
Listed on Ciao since: 03/04/2006