[Japan] Kyoto: Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺) / The Golden Pavilion

One of the most famous places we visited while in Kyoto was the Kinkakuji or The Golden Pavilion. Take one look at it and you can guess why they call it that!

Golden Pavilion front

We visited during a local holiday so there were a lot of visitors there that day. I’m just thankful I got snap of photo of the temple from this famous angle. What do you think? Do I have a future in travel photography? :p

The Kinkaku’s upper two levels are covered in gold foil lacquer. If you look closely, you will also see a phoenix sitting at the very top of the shingled roof. Each level of the pavilion is said to reflect different architectural styles. The first level reflect the shinden style of the 11th century aristocracy, the second level is in the bukke style of the samurai warrior aristocracy and the topmost level is in the Chinese zen style, called the zenshu-butsuden.

Golden Pavilion back

This structure was said to have suffered a couple of fires, including one where a monk set fire to it before attempting to commit suicide. The structure we saw was the one rebuilt in the 1950’s. No one was allowed to enter the actual structure but there are statues inside the first two levels, some of which are hidden away from the public’s eyes.

Garden entrance

Kinkakuji statues

Once you’re done with the area where the Golden Pavilion can be viewed, there’s honestly nothing much left to see. You will pass by several structures which are not open to the public but you will enjoy walking through the garden, which has been listed as a National Special Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty. It’s also the place where you can see small statues like the ones above, where people throw coins for good luck.

Fudo Hall

As you head towards the exit, you’ll see a tea house and several souvenir stalls along the way. I remember seeing crowds gathered at a small temple near the exit, but wasn’t so sure about what was going on. Apparently, the place was known as the Fudo Hall, where one of the Five Wisdom Kings and protector of Buddhism was housed.

Traveling to places like these really benefit from a bit of research as it gives you a better appreciation for the culture and people that built the place. It’s not at all hard to imagine yourself as a person from that time while looking at the view… if you can ignore the tourists, that is. 🙂

*The Golden Pavilion is located at 603-8361 Kinkakuji-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Entrance fee was 400 yen (approximately Php155.00) per adult.

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