Kinkakuji is widely known as the Golden Pavilion and is a three-story Zen Buddhist temple in northern Kyoto. Built during the 13th century, Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji (Silver Pavillion) were originally meant to be aristocrat villas for the Ashikaga shoguns. Now, the building is also known by the name Rokuonji.
Being a Zen Temple, Kinkakuji houses several important Buddhist relics and is a sacred place for the Rinzai-sect of Japanese Buddhism. Unlike its counterpart Ginkakuji, Kinkakuji's exterior is actually plated with gold. Each floor of the temple conveys a different architectural style — the first-floor being of Shinden style, the second-floor being Bukke style, and the third-floor being of Chinese Zen style. As a result, it became one of the most photogenic temples in all of Kyoto.
The temple building used to be the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu's retirement villa. After his passing in 1408, he willed the building to be given to the Rinzai sect to serve as a Zen temple. Its silver counterpart Ginkakuji was built for a similar reason — as a retirement villa for Yoshimitsu's grandson, Ashikaga Yoshimasa. The Kinkakuji temple grounds used to consist of several other buildings, but have since unfortunately burnt down during fires and destruction that raged during the Onin War in the 1400s. The building you see standing today was also rebuilt in 1955.
City Bus Stop Kinkakuji-mae / City Bus Stop Kingaku-ji-michi
Kitano Tenmangū is a Shinto shrine in Kamigyō-ku, Kyoto, Japan. [Wikipedia]
Ryoanji Temple is home to Japan’s most famous Zen stone garden and one of Kyoto’s most iconic scenes. Believed to be built back in the Muromachi period (14th - 16th century), the origin and designer of the garden is still unknown to this day. The stones in the garden are intentionally placed so that one cannot view all 15 stones from any one angle. The meticulous design of this karesansui (Japanese rock garden) leads many to credit the celebrated artist, Soami, as the garden’s creator—albeit unproven. The 248-square meter garden bears little trace of greenery, and is instead immaculately lined with raked white gravel. The seemingly random placement of the stones adds to the mystique of Ryoan-ji, its abstract layout leaving visitors questioning the meaning and purpose of the garden. While the garden remains a mystery, the history of Ryoanji Temple is well documented. The temple buildings were originally a Heian Period villa, and were converted into a Zen temple in 1450. Now, Ryoanji is part of the Myoshin-ji school in the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. In 1994, Ryoanji’s immaculate zen stone garden was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also designated as a Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto.
Established in 888, Ninna-ji is a temple of great importance — being the head temple of the Omuro school in the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Ninna-ji Temple is known not only for the building itself but for its prime location as a late cherry blossom viewing spot. The temple is home to a host of Omuro Sakura trees, which are the latest blooming cherry trees within Kyoto. Other varieties include Somei Yoshino cherry trees and the ever-popular weeping cherry trees that are located outside the bell tower. Visitors often flock to the area to catch the last glimpse of spring before the short-lived blossom season ends. Ninna-ji is one of the lesser-known temples within Kyoto, despite its well-deserved status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto. Back in 1467, the temple was ravaged by fire and destruction during the Onin War. Thankfully, it was rebuilt around 150 years later, by Kakushin Hosshinno and Tokugawa Iemitsu, and has since been meticulously preserved to this day. The expansive temple grounds also include an impressive Japanese garden, from which the five-storied pagoda can be seen in the background. Visitors to the temple can also partake in the Omuro Pilgrimage — a two-hour hiking course similar to the spiritual Shikoku Pilgrimage.