Kinkakuji must be one of Kyoto’s most recognisable historical buildings…it’s just fabulous! From Kyoto Station Kinkakuji is only 40 minutes directly by bus or it takes 25 minutes via the subway.

Kinkakuji Map


When we visited Kinkakuji last autumn, we travelled by bus from Kyoto Station. The bus stop is only a short walk to the entrance of the temple’s grounds. There is a large path walkway up to the entrance and ticket gates, of which there is a small entrance fee of 400 yen (£2.85) which in contrast is extremely cheap!


After viewing Kinkakuji from across the large pond from this viewing area the path follows around the pond passing the head priest’s former living quarters and continues around and the pond creating more fantastic viewpoints of Kinkakuji.  The path then passes around the back of the temple and leads through its gardens which are still the original design. From there the path continues rise up to the Anmintaki Pond and then to a viewing point above Kinkakiji, which gives you a different perspective, and is again stunning with the autumn colours, of which the path falls back down past the Sekkatei Teahouse and eventually to the entrance gate, where on the exit of the garden there are souvenir shops and a small tea garden. 


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Situated in northern Kyoto, Kinkakuji is a Zen Temple, although it is often referred to the Golden Pavilion as its top two floors are covered in golf leaf.  Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and after his death in 1408, it became a Rinzai Section Zen Temple. Kinkakuji was the inspiration for the similarly named Ginkakuji or Silver Pavilion which was built by Yoshimitsu’s grandson on the other side of the city a few decades later.                                                                                  It has been burned down many times throughout its history, its present structure was rebuilt in 1955. Interestedly each floor of the temple has been built to represent a different style of architecture.  Its starting to become a common theme…burnt down!!


Once we had purchased our ticket and walked through the entrance gate there was only a small walk of which the path come to a corner, around the corner and there standing like a beacon is Kinkakuji! With the sun reflecting of the stunning golden walls and perfectly situated at the far side of a large pond the temple is beautify reflected in the still water. Surround by vast amount of stunning pine and maple trees, there are islands in the pond with more stunning niwaki (garden tree) pines perfectly positioned on them. At this view point there is a nice sized area where people can photograph the temple, although it was extremely busy, amazingly you can take a photo of the pavilion and it’s grounds as if you we’re the only one there, it’s almost as if they designed it that way! 


Please find our other Kyoto articles in the 'Kyoto' section of the website.

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