Kinkaku-ji (Rokuon-ji)

Kinkaku, or the golden pavilion, stands facing Kyoko-chi (mirror lake) pond. Though the pavilion is not huge in size, people would be impressed at the first sight of brilliant golden walls of the building. The pavilion and its reflection on the water as well as islets and trees weave into a beauty and create a peaceful atmosphere. This Zen temple, Rokuon-ji, being frequently called Kinkaku-ji because of the golden pavilion, attracts many visitors all the year round.

History of Kinkaku-ji

The place originally was a villa of a powerful statesman Saionji Kintsune (1171-1244), that was called Kitayama-dai. The third Ashikaga Shogun, Yoshimitsu (1358-1408), who abdicated the shogunate in 1394, bought the place from the Saionjis in 1397. Three years later, he started to build his version of villa, Kitayama-den. The villa, that constitutes of Kinkaku, gardens and other buildings, is said to be designed to realize Buddhist paradise on the earth.

After Yoshimitsu's death, Kitayama-den was made into a Zen temple, so as to carry out his will. Muso Kokushi was assigned as the founder of the temple also in accordance with the late shogun's will. During Onin civil war (1467-1477), all the buildings except Kinkaku were burned down. The garden, however, remains as original and can be enjoyed as it was hundreds of years ago. In 1950, Kinkaku was set fire by a student monk and reduced to ashes. The present building was rebuilt in 1955.

How to get to Kinkaku-ji

  • 35 minutes from Kyoto Station to Kinkaku-ji-michi by Kyoto City Bus 101 or 205.
  • 32 minutes from Shijo-Kawaramachi to Kinkaku-ji-michi by Kyoto City Bus 205
  • 34 minutes or 36 minutes from Shijo-Kawaramachi to Kinkaku-ji-mae by Kyoto City Bus 12 or 59 respectively.
  • 32 minutes from Sanjo-Keihan-mae to Kinkaku-ji-mae by Kyoto City Bus 59
  • From Ninna-ji or Ryoan-ji, take Kyoto City bus 59 bound for Shijo-Kawaramachi. It takes about 10 minutes or 6 minutes respectively to Kinkaku-ji-mae.

Hours and Admission

9:00-17:00

All except those listed below: 400 yen
Schoolchildren and Junior High School Students (1st to 9th graders): 300 yen
Children under school age: free

Photos of Kinkaku-ji

Photos of Kinkaku

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Kinkaku and Kyoko-chi pond
Kinkaku, the golden pavilion, and Kyoko-chi pond that represents the sea.
November 30, 2009
Kinkaku. The first floor is Shinden-zukuri type and called Hossui-in. the second floor is Shoin-zukuri type and called Cho'on-do. The third floor is Zen-shu-Butsu-den type and named Kukkyocho.
November 30, 2009
Kinkaku and its reflection on Kyoko-chi pond.
November 30, 2009
Kinkaku in winter.
January 20, 2001
Kinkaku viewed from the east.
November 30, 2009
The rear view of Kinkaku. The small structure attached to the pavilion is tsuridono (a fishing deck) that is called Sosei. A boat can be moored under it.
February 17, 2008
Kinkaku seen from behind.
February 17, 2008
The third floor of Kinkaku, that is called Kukkyocho.
March 14, 2004
Wooden images of Buddha (right) and Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Muromachi third shogun who built Kinkaku (left). These images are on the first floor of Kinkaku.
November 18, 2007
Phoenix on the rooftop of Kinkaku.
November 18, 2007

Photos of Kyoko-chi pond

Most visitors seem to be captivated by gorgeous Kinkaku and not to pay any attention to Kyoko-chi pond. But it is hard to imagine the golden pavilion without Kyoko-chi pond, the core of the Chisen-Kaiyu-shiki/Chisen-Shuyu-shiki Teien (a pond strolling and pond-boating garden) of Kinkaku-ji. Typical charms of a Japanese garden can be found in the garden, especially in the pond and Ryumon-baku (Ryumon-no-taki) waterfall.

Click on a photo for full image.

Kyoko-chi pond in autumn.
November 28, 2000
Kyoko-chi pond in winter.
January 20, 2001
Islets in Kyoko-chi pond.
November 18, 2007
The southernmost islet in Kyoko-chi pond.
November 30, 2009
Ashihara-jima islet in Kyoko-chi pond. The largest islet in the pond represents the Japanese Islands.
February 17, 2008
Sanzon ishigumi on the northern shore of Ashihara-jima.
March 13, 2010
The inclined stone in the middle of the photo is Hosokawa-ishi on Ashihara-jima islet.
March 13, 2010
The stone leaning to the right is Akamatsu-ishi.
March 13, 2010
Hatakeyama-ishi to the east of Awaji-shima islet.
March 13, 2010
Tsuru-jima (crane island) on the left and Kame-jima (turtle island) on the right.
November 30, 2009
Kusen-Hakkai-seki (nine-mountain-eight-sea stone) north-east of Tsuru-jima. This stone was imported from China.
March 13, 2010
The four stones forming a horizontal line in the middle of the photo are called Yodomari-ishi that represent sailboats anchored at night. These boats are bound for the Isle of Eternal Life in Chinese mythology.
March 13, 2010
Dekame (leaving turtle) island
November 30, 2009
Irikame (arriving turtle) island
November 30, 2009
A small gate with a moss covered roof.
February 17, 2008

Photos of Hojo and Kuri

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Kuri, the priest's living quarters, of Kinkaku-ji in winter.
January 20, 2001
Onigawara, or a gargoyle on the roof of Kuri.
March 14, 2004
Buddhist images in a room of Hojo.
January 26, 2004
Fusuma-e in a tatami room of Hojo, painted by Kano Geki in 1681.
January. 26, 2004
Fusuma-e in a tatami room of Hojo, painted by Kano Geki in 1681.
January. 26, 2004
The phoenix that used to be on the roof top of the original Kinkaku, that was set fire and burnt down in 1950.
January 26, 2004
A karesansui garden of Hojo.
January 26, 2004
Hojo building.
February 17, 2008
Rikushu-no-matsu, a-boat-on-the-ground pine.
February 17, 2008

Other Photos

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Somon gate.
November 18, 2007
Ichimonji chozubachi, a big washbasin.
March 13, 2010
The belfry.
November 18, 2007
A small shrine called Shin'un.
March 13, 2010
Genka-sen well that was used by Yoshimitsu to wash his hands.
November 18, 2007
A pair of Kinkaku-ji gaki bamboo fences that are peculiar to Kinkaku-ji.
February 17, 2008
Kokei-kyo, a small stone bridge over the stream from Anmin-taku pond to Ryumon-baku waterfall.
March 13, 2010
Ryumon-baku (Ryumon-no-taki) waterfall. In the middle is Rigyo-seki that literally means a carp stone.
March 13, 2010
Jizo Buddhist images and coins that visitors tossed.
February 17, 2008
An islet in Anmin-taku pond. The stone pagoda in the middle is called Hakuja-zuka, or a white snake mound.
November 18, 2007
Sekka-tei tea hut that was rebuilt in in 1874. The original hut was designed by a tea master Kanamori Sowa (1584-1657).
January 26, 2004
A room of Sekka-tei.
November 18, 2007
Kijin-to, a chair-shaped stone.
March 13, 2010
Fudo-do.
February 17, 2008
The exit stone stairs.
January 26, 2004