Glittering in the sun due to its gold leaf exterior is one of Kyoto’s most recognizable and loved sites – The Golden Pavilion, commonly called Kinkaku-ji in Japanese (though its official name is
Rokuon-ji – 鹿苑寺). Standing stately it is among an esteemed group of historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites collectively referred to at the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. The Golden Pavilion, reflecting its beauty on the mirror pond surrounding it, was constructed back in 1397 for the shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Further buildings were constructed later on and it became the Kinkaku-ji complex. Upon the death of the shōgun his son made the complex into a beautiful Zen Garden which has remained important to the monks since. During the Onin War in the 1400s the complex was, sadly devastated by fire with only the Golden Pavilion surviving. Restoration of the gardens ensued and it remained so until 1950 when a novice monk burned down the pavilion. Once again it was rebuilt, keeping very close to the original design.
Today the Golden Pavilion is Kyoto’s most visited site. Gathering from the photos I’ve seen I can understand why. Wandering the gardens, admiring the pond, taking in the history, and seeing the architecture sounds wonderful. Since it is so popular do expect that there will be crowds. It is located north of Kyoto is can take about 30 – 40 minutes to arrive, depending on your mode of transportation. There are buses that leave regularly from Kyoto Station. There is also the option of hiring a taxi or booking a tour so doing some research may be of benefit.