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Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji Temple)

Built in the 14th century for a shogun, then rebuilt twice, this temple is now a Buddhist site and its top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf.

Of all the temples you’ll see in Kyōto, this one is perhaps the most breathtaking. Also known as “Kinkaku-ji,” the Temple of the Golden Pavilion’s top two floors are coated in gold leaf, creating a dazzling mirror image in the pond on which it’s built.

Surrounded by the Hokuzan mountain, the temple gleams brightly on sunny days, and is just as beautiful when dusted by snow in winter. Though you can’t enter the pavilion, some of the statues kept on the first floor can be seen through the open windows.

The temple was originally Shogun Ashikaga’s residence, and became a Zen Buddhist temple after his death in the 15th century. The building was damaged and ruined more than once, and has been rebuilt each time, most recently in the 1950s. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994.

Interestingly, the three floors of the temple are built in different architectural styles. The top level uses elements of Chinese Zen architecture, and is capped with a golden phoenix. The middle level is built in the style of Samurai residences, while the bottom level reflects the style of palace architecture from the Heian period (794-1185). It’s said the Golden Pavillion houses some of the Buddha’s ashes.

The garden here was designed during Shogun Ashikaga’s residence as a place for meditation. A teahouse was added during the Edo period (1603-1868). Along the paths you’ll find shrines and statues which many visitors throw coins at for luck.

On your way out ring the bell at Fudo Hall, dedicated to the god of fire. The hall houses a carving of Fudo Myoo, one of the five wisdom kings seen as Buddha’s protectors. You can also stop here at a small garden to sit and enjoy tea and sweets.

The temple of the Golden Pavilion is in north Kyōto. It takes a little under an hour to get there direct by bus from Kyōto Station, the city’s main transportation hub. The temple is open daily and has a small admission fee.


Guide to Exploring Kinkaku-ji


Top Hotel Deals

See all 3,070 properties near Kinkaku-ji
Guesthouse Sakura Komachi - Hostel £56
Guesthouse Sakura Komachi - Hostel

Guesthouse Sakura Komachi - Hostel

10-2, Kaidocho, Kinugasa, Kyoto, Kyoto
     
    2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Kita Ward, this hostel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kinkaku-ji and Ryōan-ji. Genkoan and Kyoto Imperial Palace are also within 3 mi (5 km). Kitano-Hakubaicho Station is 17 minutes by foot and Tojiin Station is 23 minutes.

    Kyoyado Yaezakura £112
    Kyoyado Yaezakura

    Kyoyado Yaezakura

       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Kita Ward, this holiday home is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kitano Tenmangū and Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kawaramachi are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kitano-Hakubaicho Station is 15 minutes by foot and Tojiin Station is 20 minutes.

      Guest House Kyorakuya Kinkakuji £104
      Guest House Kyorakuya Kinkakuji

      Guest House Kyorakuya Kinkakuji

         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Kita Ward, this guesthouse is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kitano Tenmangū and Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kawaramachi are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kitano-Hakubaicho Station is 12 minutes by foot and Tojiin Station is 17 minutes.

        Kyo Koyado Kinkakuji Benten
        Kyo Koyado Kinkakuji Benten

        Kyo Koyado Kinkakuji Benten

           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Kita Ward, this holiday home is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kitano Tenmangū and Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nijō Castle are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kitano-Hakubaicho Station is 18 minutes by foot and Kuramaguchi Station is 27 minutes.

          Hananobou Bettei
          Hananobou Bettei

          Hananobou Bettei

             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Kita Ward, this holiday home is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from Kinkaku-ji, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Ryōan-ji and Kyoto Imperial Palace. Nijō Castle and Heian Shrine are also within 6 mi (10 km). Kitano-Hakubaicho Station is 21 minutes by foot and Kuramaguchi Station is 27 minutes.

            Hananobou Kinkakuji-michi £164
            Hananobou Kinkakuji-michi

            Hananobou Kinkakuji-michi

               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Kita Ward, this holiday home is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kitano Tenmangū and Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nijō Castle are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kitano-Hakubaicho Station is 20 minutes by foot and Kuramaguchi Station is 28 minutes.

              Koto Hananobou
              Koto Hananobou

              Koto Hananobou

                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Kita Ward, this holiday home is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kitano Tenmangū and Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nijō Castle are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kitano-Hakubaicho Station is 20 minutes by foot and Kuramaguchi Station is 28 minutes.

                K-style
                K-style

                K-style

                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Kita Ward, this holiday home is within a 15-minute walk of Kitano Tenmangū and Kinkaku-ji. Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kawaramachi are also within 3 miles (5 km). Kitano-Hakubaicho Station is 18 minutes by foot and Kuramaguchi Station is 26 minutes.