The Golden Pavilion
Kinkakuji or the Golden Pavilion is a zen temple located in Northern Kyoto. With its two top floors covered in gold leaf, it is easy to see how this awe-inspiring building received its literal name. I was very excited to get the opportunity to photograph Kinkakuji and it was my favourite sight in all of Kyoto. The Golden Pavilion is iconic and recognized all over the world for its stunning exterior and storybook setting.
Photographers will absolutely love Kinkakuji. The Golden Pavilion is picturesque and situated perfectly amongst the Japanese landscape. Despite the large crowds and inability to use tripods, paths around the temple are strategically located to minimize the presence of tourists. There are a few vantage points that will yield amazing pictures, free of people and intruding foliage! I was there on a busy day, making it hard to believe there are hundreds of people behind the temple and trees. In addition, you’ll be able to get some amazing reflections and the landscaping is always pristine.
After viewing the Golden Pavilion, there is still plenty more to see on the temple grounds. You’ll walk across plenty of coin tosses. If you have any spare change, test your skills by trying to throw coins into a small bowl. It is said to bring good luck to those who participate in this challenge. You can also view the outside of the head priest’s former living quarters and Anmintaku Pond, which is said to never dry out.
It’s important to be patient and allow yourself plenty of time, Kinkakuji cannot be rushed! You’ll spend at least one hour exploring the temple grounds and visiting small shops for souvenirs. Most people will visit the Golden Pavilion and then walk over to see Ryoanji Temple’s famous rock garden. These two attractions will provide a morning’s worth of sightseeing and is a perfect way to start your time in Kyoto.
How to Get There:
The Golden Pavilion is easily accessible from Kyoto Station. There are several options available. You can take city bus 101 or 205, taking approximately 40 minutes to reach Kinkakuji. In my opinion, it is much easier to ride the subway to Kitoji Station and then take a cab the rest of the way. This option is much more reliable and is better for people who have limited time exploring Kyoto.