Today we are off to Kinkaku-ji, the golden pavilion!
Kinkaku-ji, an extravagant Zen Buddhist temple, is one of Japan’s premier tourists spots.
Now, getting to Kinkaku-ji is surprisingly hard. There are no train lines to it, or nearby really, and taxis can be expensive, so we ended up on a bus, which was extremely crowded, and Japanese bus etiquette is not what I’m used to.
Unlike London buses, on which you board at the front and exit from the middle, you board from the middle and exit from the front. When a bus is crowded, this is not easy at all! This bus was the single most cramped experience of my life, and I have used the Tube at rush hour with suitcases and bags a lot.
You also pay as you get off, we bought a day rider pass, and I paid for it incorrectly by putting my money where everyone else put their’s, but you don’t for a day pass? I felt pretty embarrassed, but hey ho we had made it.
Make sure to research your way to and from Kinkaku-ji, this is a time that having mobile data really paid off.
This was the ticket!
Getting this, I got trapped in a tourist group. Kinkaku-ji is amazing, it’s beautiful, it’s showstopping, however it is a tourist trap.
I knew visiting on a Saturday afternoon would be hectic but wow was it hectic. You absolutely have to go, it is brilliant, but beware of that.
So you head through a few gates and through this building and here we are:
The current standing pavilion was built in 1955, after the last fell victim to arson.
The top two floors are covered in pure gold leaf!
The ground/first floor for non-Brits is known as The Chamber of Dharma Waters, the first/second floor as The Tower of Sound Waves, and the second/third is known as the Cupola of the Ultimate.
Kinkaku-ji looks so incredibly serene and peaceful. These pictures paint such a calm picture of it, and I wish from the bottom of my heart that it were so.
However as you can see from the lefthand side of this picture, it is extremely cramped. As we were first able to see the pavilion, we were being shouted in both English and Japanese by security to keep moving and not to stop at any point.
This made it hard to nab a good spot for photos and viewing, you have to be proactive and launch yourself from the tide of people as soon as a spot appears!
But getting those spots can be difficult!
Kinkaku-ji looks beautiful from every angle, however you wish to capture that first moment of wonder seeing something so renowned and beautiful.
There is a small phoenix ornamentation on top.
One more shot of all the tourists. I was so glad to be free of that crowd!
The grounds get less busy as you walk around, the initial rush is the absolute worst! Whilst stuck in that I was so disappointed and upset with Kinkaku-ji.
Minutes after, however, it is much better.
The grounds are rather large, and many other buildings lie dotted around.
This is a fishing deck, however I don’t imagine it gets much use!
You aim to throw your coin into the bowl and your wish may come true!
We had a go, and mine went in! It made a big gong-esque sound and everyone cheered! It was bloody good, and I aim that success to my beer pong prowess.
The higher in the grounds you get, the less of the pavilion you see, however you get to appreciate new angles that people aren’t fighting over!
Many traditional Japanese snacks and drinks are available, as well as many souvenirs.
We stayed here for traditional green tea and a wagashi sweet!
The wagashi even featured gold leaf!
This area, which seemed to be at the top of the grounds, had the smell of incense in the air!
It was lined by various stores, street vendors, and smaller shrines.
Prayer candles were available to burn on the grounds.
Fortunes are available in various languages from many machines for a small price!
I stupidly put money in a machine without looking, and I have no idea if this was a good or bad fortune.
But once I got one in English, I was happy with my result!
Which meant that I didn’t have to tie mine to this fence to be blessed by a priest the next day.
And so we departed Kinkaku-ji to head towards another hellish bus journey.
I have to recommend Kinkaku-ji, it’s one of the main draws to Kyoto! Whilst busy, it is still breathtaking, it is still a place with enormous culture surrounding it, and it is still a landmark well worth seeing.
Thanks for reading!
Catch up on the rest of my Japan posts here: