Officially named ‘Rokuon-ji’, ‘Kinkaku-ji’ or the ‘Temple of the Golden Pavilion’ is one of the seventeen sites making-up Kyoto’s World Heritage-listing and perhaps the most recognisable attraction of the celebrated historic city. Originally the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the structure was converted into a Zen temple upon his death in the early-15th century. The building is relatively small but striking in appearance thanks to its gold-leafed exterior and houses a statue of Kannon – Goddess of Mercy – accompanied by the Four Heavenly Kings.
The public are not permitted to enter the temple however Kinkaku-ji remains well-worth visiting. The temple sits next to a large pond and among a beautifully landscaped garden which looks splendid in each season. Paths allow visitors to walk through the garden, leading to the Sekkatei Teahouse and small temple buildings. Beautiful at all times of year, Kinkaku-ji is especially striking during the autumn colours of October and November and the occasional snow of winer.
To reach Kinkaku-ji from Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City Bus No.101 or 205 and disembark at the Ritsumeikan Saionji Kinenkan-mae bust stop - approx. 40 minutes / JPY230. The temple complex is only moments walk from the bus stop