The sun was low when we get off at Kinkakuji-mae bus stop, giving everything a bit of a yellow tone. The path leading into the ground of Kinkakuji (金閣寺) was crowded with visitors from local and abroad. After a few hectic minutes queuing in front of the ticket office, we finally got our admission tickets. It wouldn’t be long before Kinkakuji closing its doors at sunset (around 4:30pm). We wasted no time and walked into the temple ground, which was a large Zen Buddhist garden around a large reflective pool known as the Kyōko-chi (鏡湖池), or Mirror Pond. All visitors entering the garden immediately gathered by the pond to take photos of the fascinating Kinkakuji building. Covered with gold-leaf coating, the 3-storey Kinkakuji, which literally means the Golden Pavilion, stood proudly by the opposite shore and glittered under the western sun. Since late 14th century the building was considered as an icon of architectural beauty in Japan. Its beauty was so overwhelmingly powerful, prompting a mentally disordered novice monk to burn down the building in an early summer morning of 1950. Built in 1955, the present Golden Pavilion building is a reconstruction of the 14th century original. Author Yukio Mishima’s (三島 由紀夫) masterpiece “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (金閣寺)” was loosely based on this tragic incident. I first learnt about Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion from his famous novel.
After a few minutes taking photos by the pond, we followed the designated path to walk towards the Golden Pavilion. The building was not open for the public and we could only admire the architecture from outside. Behind the pavilion, the garden path continued up a hill over to another tranquil water pond, the Anmintaku Pond, where a mini stone pagoda was erected on a small island. After another short walk we were almost at the garden exit. Before reaching the souvenir shops, we passed by the Fudo Hall where visitors paid their respect to Fudo Myoo (不動明王), also known as Acala Dharmapala, one of the five wisdom kings and protectors of Buddhism. Because of the crowds, touring Kinkakuji wasn’t the most pleasant experience we had in Kyoto, but the visual beauty of the Golden Pavilion was still overwhelming. Unlike Ninnaji Temple where we spent a considerable amount of time delightfully exploring the verandas, courtyards and gardens, we didn’t stay long at Kinkakuji. In fact, the biggest surprise of the visit was our first glance of the Golden Pavilion and its perfect reflection in the Mirror Pond near the garden entrance. Nonetheless, the iconic beauty of Kinkakuji under the golden afternoon sun is an irresistible sight for any first time visitor to Kyoto, including us.
From Ninnaji Temple, we decided to take the bus to Kinkakuji Temple in order to save time. If we chose to walk it would probably take us about half an hour.
Tourists gathered in front of Mirror Pond to take pictures of the Golden Pavilion.
Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavilion, shimmered under the late afternoon sun.
The reflection of the Golden Pavilion in peaceful Mirror Pond was near perfect.
Close up of the reflection of the Golden Pavilion.
Approaching the Golden Pavilion from the waterfront path.
The Golden Pavilion is topped with a bronze phoenix.
The small stone pavilion at Anmintaku Pond.
Even the Fudo Hall near the exit was packed with visitors.
It was almost sunset when we left Kinkakuji. Because of the fine weather, we decided to continue with our Kyoto tour with temple night visits despite we were both tired from the red-eye flight. Our next destination was Kitano Tenmangu (北野天滿宮), one of the few temples in Kyoto where the fall colour was still at its peak.
Our posts on 2016 Kyoto and Nara:
OUR FIRST KYOTO STORY, Japan
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AT HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: RYOANJI TEMPLE (龍安寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NINNAJI TEMPLE (仁和寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KINKAKUJI TEMPLE (金閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: KITANO TENMANGU SHRINE (北野天満宮), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 1: NIGHT AT KIYOMIZU-DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: MORNING STROLL IN SOUTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA (清水寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: KIYOMIZU DERA to KENNINJI, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: ○△□ and Chouontei Garden and Ceiling of Twin Dragons, KENNINJI TEMPLE (建仁寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: SFERA BUILDING (スフェラ・ビル), SHIRKAWA GION (祇園白川), KAMO RIVER (鴨川) & DOWNTOWN, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 2: YAKITORI HITOMI (炭焼創彩鳥家 人見), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: MORNING IN NORTHERN HIGASHIYAMA (北東山), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: NANZENJI (南禅寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: PHILOSOPHER’S PATH (哲学の道), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: HONENIN (法然院), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: GINKAKUJI (銀閣寺), Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 3: CRAB AND SAKE, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 4: HORYUJI (法隆寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: TODAIJI TEMPLE (東大寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KASUGA TAISHA (春日大社), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: KOFUKUJI (興福寺), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: NAKAGAWA MASASHICHI SHOTEN (中川政七商店 遊中川), Nara (奈良), Japan
DAY 4: RAMEN & CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 1, Kyoto (京都), Japan
DAY 5: FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE (伏見稲荷大社) Part 2, Kyoto, Japan
DAY 5: FAREWELL KYOTO, Kyoto, Japan