金閣寺と銀閣寺 – Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji Temples

After the bamboo forest we took the Sagano Line back to Emmachi, stopped for doughnuts, and then walked the 20 minute walk (most of the way, anyway) to Kinkakuji – the Golden Pavilion. Probably the place I was most keen to see in Kyoto, the Golden Pavilion is one of the first things to show up in any Google search of Kyoto. It is a simply beautiful Zen temple to the northwest of the city, sitting on the shore of a glassy pond.

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There are so many beautiful, historic places in the Kyoto area that, rather than protecting individual monuments, 17 sites make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.” Somewhat interestingly, the structure that stands today was built in 1955. A monk went crazy in 1950 and burned down the previous structure. If you check out the Wikipedia article you will see that the previous temple looked a little different.That is probably the most notable burning, but there have been others. When a place has been important since 1397, it’s going to see some damage. Similarly, the Osaka Castle you see today is also a modern reconstruction on a historic site. Nevertheless, Kinkakuji is a very special, beautiful and – of course – extremely popular place.

We then made use of our handy bus passes (which we picked up at the Information Center at Kyoto Station). We hopped on the 204 and headed to the northeastern side of the city to Ginkakuji – the Silver Pavilion. Not as clearly silver as the Golden Pavilion is gold, I think I actually loved it more.

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You can tell by my happy face.

We walked up the cherry blossom-lined road to the temple. Passed girls in their yukata taking selfies and photos of each other (they attracted a bit of attention). It was a very beautiful Spring day all round!

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Ginkakuji is also a Zen temple. It is nestled in the side of a hill amongst thick green forest. The temple is slightly younger than our first temple of the day. Ginkakuji was founded in 1490 and is very similar to Kinkakuji in design. Former Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa designed the temple after Kinkakuji, which had been founded by his grandfather, Yoshimitsu.

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The builders never got around to completing the silver foiling, so the temple has a lovely exposed wood look. As a complex, I really love it. The whole place is beautiful. I felt very Zen indeed. It was awesome because we had umm’d and ahh’d about going in since we had some much to do in just one day. Then we went for it and it was great! I would even recommend Ginkakuji over Kinkakuji.

After three amazing sites and a lot of walking around we were desperate for some ramen. We weren’t disappointed by this little restaurant a ten minute walk out of the tourist zone. Boy do I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant. It was quite, cheap and soooooo good!

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Entry costs/info:
Kinkakuji is 400yen per adult
Ginkakuji is 500yen per adult
The 204 is the bus that runs between both sites
Emmachi station is where we hopped off the train. There are buses that take you up the road if you’d prefer not to walk. All the ones that passed us were packed solid.

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