Japan Kyoto Northern Kyoto


A Zen Buddhist temple adorned in gold leaf, embodying centuries of Japan’s spiritual and cultural history.

Photo of Kinkakuji, Japan (Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto by DavideGorla)

Kinkakuji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, renowned for its gold-leaf-adorned facade. Originally built in 1397, Kinkakuji has been reconstructed multiple times, most recently in 1955 following a fire. Today, it stands as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, drawing visitors from around the globe.

About Kinkakuji

Established by shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu as his retirement villa, Kinkakuji was transformed into a Zen temple as per his will. The top two stories are covered in gold leaf, harmonizing with the temple’s reflection in the Kyōko-chi pond. The three floors of Kinkakuji embody different architectural styles: Shinden-zukuri of the Heian aristocracy on the first floor, Buke-zukuri of samurai residences on the second, and the Chinese Zen Hall style on the third, all topped with a bronze phoenix.

Kinkakuji has endured through times of strife, including the Onin War (1467–1477) and an arson in 1950 by a troubled novice monk. These incidents have highlighted its enduring legacy.

Though the interior is closed to the public, the temple grounds with their exquisite gardens provide a tranquil setting. The gardens, reminiscent of a Buddhist paradise, feature the Anmintaku Pond and statues for good fortune. The Golden Pavilion, part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, represents Kyoto’s rich cultural legacy and remains an active site of worship.

Kinkakuji’s presence has left an indelible mark on Japanese culture, influencing other architectural marvels such as Ginkakuji. To fully appreciate its splendor, visitors can observe the pavilion under various weather conditions, where its golden hue shifts with the light. Early mornings or late afternoons often offer quieter moments for reflection.

In summary, Kinkakuji stands as a testament to Japan’s cultural and spiritual depth, providing a peaceful environment for all who visit.

Getting There the easiest way to reach Kinkakuji

Around Kinkakuji


Buddhist Temple in Kyoto

open 9am - 5pm
closed Irregularly


金閣寺, 京都

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Updated 14 Mar 2024 • Report an error

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