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Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

4.4
#2 of 25,429 in Things to do in Japan
With its top two stories completely coated in pure gold leaf, Kinkaku-ji gleams in the sunlight and reflects off the pond at its edge. This Zen Buddhist temple started as a villa for a powerful statesman in the 14th century, before its conversion to a temple by the family of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397. After a high-profile arson in 1950, the temple was rebuilt in its current form with ostentatious gold leaf coating to echo the extravagance of aristocratic culture in Yoshimitsu’s time. Look out for the different historical architectural styles represented by each floor of the temple. Plan to visit Kinkaku-ji and other customer-reviewed, writer-recommended Kyoto attractions using our Kyoto online holiday planner .
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Kinkaku-ji Reviews
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  • The Golden Temple is a kind of Park where everyone runs the same route and along the way, the Golden Temple.
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  • You can not miss this visit, truly spectacular, with a beauty, difficult to describe, is part of a set of buildings, and essential temples on a visit to Kyoto.
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  • Amazing scenery and a beautiful park with a trademark golden pagoda which is reflected in property like Mirror Lake. The ultimate Zen, if you can isolate the images from the countless visitors.
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  • Cool temple to see. The walk through the temple is very short compared to other temples in Kyoto. I would suggest to see this mid-week rather than on the weekends. I went on a Wednesday and it was still pretty busy with school children on field trips. I may have just had bad luck, but I can't imagine how busy it would be on a weekend. When you go through the temple grounds, there are some points where you can take great pictures. Expect to wait in line for the photo opportunity though. It felt like we were just going through a line the entire walk through the temple since it was so busy, and whenever we were at a photo op point, we snapped a few shots and were nudged to keep moving... Still cool. There are a lot of shops just outside the temple the sell neat things with gold flecks in them. I bought ice cream with gold on it. Pretty cool.
  • Such a beautiful and serene place. Even though it has a heavy footfall of visitors this temple complex is still calm. It's hard not to take a good picture of the golden pavilion itself, perfect settings and the natural landscape that surrounds it provides the perfect harmony.
  • I visited this place late afternoon - around 3pm. It turned out to be quite a bad experience for me. Firsly, the place is extremely crowded. There is hardly any place to stand or move. This makes it difficult to take god photos or even just stand and enjoy the beauty of the Pagoda. Secondly, the heat at that time made it worse. We just looked for the exit and did a bit of souvenir shopping on our way out. The temple closes very early, so I think the best time to visit is early morning.
  • Beautiful but crowded. If you have limited time, I would advise going to the silver temple over this one. But if you have few days in Kyoto, this is definitely worth a visit.
  • It was a nice experience. It's a short walk, and I also tried the tea and snack offered here. It was refreshing, as the day was very hot. Expect it to be crowded!

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Where to stay in Kyoto

Kyoto spoils visitors for choice when it comes to good accommodations, offering everything from traditional ryokans to luxury Western-style hotels. In a city used to receiving foreign travelers, you'll find that most establishments know exactly what to offer tourists and how to help newcomers to the area. To avoid paying premium prices during the cherry blossom season, consider staying in Osaka, located just a 30-minute train ride away. If you must stay in Kyoto itself, keep in mind that centrally located hotels charge more than those in the outer neighborhoods.
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