top of page

Kinkaku-ji (Rokuon-ji)
金閣寺(鹿苑寺)

The heart of Kinkaku-ji, whose formal name is Rokuon-ji, is without doubt the golden pavilion — an iconic sight of Kyōto along with Ryōan-ji’s rock garden, Kiyomizu-dera’s stage and Fushimi Inari’s thousand Torii gates.
Technically a sub-temple of Shōkoku-ji, Kinkaku-ji is a fairly large temple complex of which most buildings are, unfortunately, closed to the public. The golden pavilion stands along a pond, and the course for visiting is quite linear. Neither can the pond be circled (as half of the way is restricted access), nor can the interior of the pavilion be accessed. The current pavilion was re-constructed in the 1950s, after a monk set fire to it — an incident that has inspired the famous Yukio Mishima to write a novel on the subject.
Due to its fame, Kinkaku-ji tends to get very crowded. The best times to visit, I would say, are early in the morning and just before closing time. As is probably visible in my photos, the atmosphere of the garden itself differs hugely depending on the weather. Season-wise, the best time to visit is without doubt on one of those rare snowy mornings. Early May, when Irises bloom in the pond, is another good season, as are autumn evenings. Since the entrance fee is rather cheap at 400 Yen, it may be worth to visit repeatedly if you enjoy the architecture, and discover the place for itself.

Admission: open year-round.
Nearby places of interest: Tōji-in, Hirano Shrine, Jōbon Rendai-ji.

Shinnyodo 2017.jpg

The Golden Pavillon covered in snow.

Winter 冬
Autumn 秋
Summer 夏
Spring 春