One of my other all time favourite temples in Kyōto is the famous Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion. Located in northern Kyōto, this ancient shogun villa really is a beautiful sight to behold. The three story Zen Buddhist temple is situated on a mirror-like lake within a traditional Japanese garden. The top two stories are covered in gold leaf and the temple reflects perfectly on the lake below. It honestly is stunning! We visited on a clear sunny day, but I think it would look even more impressive surrounded by snow.
Just a gold temple, no big deal.
The ridiculously beautiful Kinkaku-ji.
Kinkaku-ji always draws a crowd so be prepared to be surrounded by a lot of people. The bonus side to this is that there are often many Japanese students wandering around offering tourists a guided tour. This is mainly so they can practice their English, but it’s a great way to chat to a local. I was lucky enough to have an adorable four year boy approach me and ask me my name and a few other questions. My old English teacher skills sprung back to life and we engaged in a small conservation with him and his dad.
The gardens around Kinkaku-ji are equally amazing. We wandered around for ages admiring the scenery and throwing coins for good luck at statues. There are also a lot of souvenir shops where you can buy good luck charms and a tea garden.
My coin is there somewhere… not in bowl though lol.
After leaving Kinkaku-ji, we wandered down the road (about a 20 minute walk) and visited Ryōan-ji Zen temple and rock garden. Even though this place is fairly popular, it is still very peaceful. People wander through the temple very quietly and respectfully. The wide wooden veranda that overlooks the main rock garden is the perfect spot to sit and let your mind wander. I thoroughly recommend visiting both Kinkaku-ji and Ryōan-ji while you’re in the area.
Peaceful and tranquil Ryōan-ji rock garden.
How to get here:
From JR Ōsaka take the Kyōto Line bound for Kyōto and get off at JR Kyōto. Take the north exit out of JR Kyōto station and head towards the bus terminal. Take bus number 101 or 205 and get off at Kinkakuji-michi bus stop. Follow the signs to Kinkaku-ji (about a 5 minute walk).
Date of visit: Saturday 27 December 2014