Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion Temple

07 March, 2012 by

Kinkakuji is just one of the many famous temples and shrines in Kyoto. Literally translated as the Golden Pavilion Temple, Kinkakuji gets its name from being coated almost entirely in paint containing real gold flakes.

Kinkakuji is the second most visited temple in Kyoto after the extravagant Kiyomizudera. Unlike Kiyomizudera though, Kinkakuji is located quite far north to the border of the city. Thankfully, it is also situated beside Ryoanji, another famous temple.

Getting to Kinkakuji

Kyoto isn’t as well connected by train as other cities. Instead, there is a complicated network of buses. The cheapest and most direct means to get to Kinkakuji is to take bus #101 from Kyoto station. Getting there takes 40 minutes and costs 220 yen.

Note: Be sure to leave early if you plan on visiting other sights in Kyoto. Most temples close between 4 to 5 PM.

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At Kinkakuji

Entrance to Kinkakuji costs 400 yen. One of the highest I have encountered. It is not possible to see the temple from outside otherwise as a large wooden gate has been constructed. Still, that doesn’t deter visitors both local and overseas who flock here in throngs to see the famous golden temple. If you’ve already come this far, then the fee will be a necessary evil.

Kinkakuji greens.

To be honest, there isn’t much to do at Kinkakuji other than to witness the famous landmark itself. Such is the case that many who had expecting more from the hype have left disappointed. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful amount of nature though, which you view from an allocated viewing spot in front of the pond.

Postcard shot of Kinkakuji.

The temple grounds isn’t very large and most of it is taken up by the greenery. There is a short route for you to follow that starts at the front of Kinkakuji and brings you to two different omamori (Japanese Charms) stands before ending at another souvenir shop at the exit. While I appreciated the historic value of the site, this was perhaps the part I liked the least about Kinkakuji, since it was by far the most commercialized out of the many temples and shrines I have visited. The path does lead you up the side of a hill though, which gives you a nice elevated view of Kinkakuji.


Overall, Kinkakuji makes for a nice side trip in Kyoto provided you have the time or are in the city already. But if you’re making it a highlight in Kyoto, it might come off as a disappointment, especially when compared to some of the other historic sites. It also certainly helps if you have an interest in temples and shrines in general. But I’m sure one wouldn’t be visiting Kyoto otherwise.

Gold leaf coating.

Images by Wilson.

Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.

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Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.