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Ginkakuji, Kyoto

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

Ginkakuji (Higashiyama Jisho-ji) also known as the Silver Pavillion, is a beautiful Zen Temple of the Rinzai School. It was modelled after Kinkaku-ji, but unlike the Golden Pavillion, Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺) is not covered in any precious metals.

The Silver Pavillion was initially planned as a retirement villa for the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, and its construction began in 1482. Per his request, the villa was converted to a temple after his death.

Ginkakuji has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.

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Ginkakuji, Kyoto

Opening times and admission

Open from 8:30 am to 5 pm from March (1st) to November (30th) and from 9 am to 4:30 pm from December (1st) to February (28th).

Admission is 500 Yen.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

How to get there

From Kyoto Station, there are a few public transport options to reach Ginkakuji:

  1. Take the 7 City Bus to Ginkakuji-michi (40 minutes, 18 stops) then walk for 10 minutes to the Silver Pavillion. This option costs 230 yen and takes around 50 minutes.

  2. Take the Karasuma Line to Marutamachi Station (7 minutes, 4 stops) then take the 204 City Bus from Karasuma Marutamachi stop to Ginkakuji-michi stop (18 minutes, 11 stops). This option costs 490 yen and takes around 45 minutes.

The closest bus stop is Ginkakuji-michi for busses nr: 5, 17, 32, 100, 102, 203, 204

Address: 2 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8402, Japan

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

I started my day with a visit to Nanzenji Temple. From there I followed the Philosopher's Path - a beautiful walking path along a canal, lined with cherry trees, which took me close to Higashiyama-Jisho-ji (a 4-minute walk from the path). The walk from Nanzenji took about 30 minutes.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

After walking through the main gate (Somon) I ended up queueing for a good few minutes in the Ginkakuji-gaki - a narrow pathway lined with high hedges/trees.

If you decide to visit Kyoto (or most places in Japan) during Cherry Blossom season, you can expect to join a queue for most places.

After reaching the Chumon and purchasing my ticket from the reception/ ticket booth, I followed the route arrows that took me on a garden tour.

The pavilion itself (Kannon-den) is not open to the public.

The Hojo (Abbot's Quarters), Togu-do Hall and Roseitei (Incense Ceremony Hall) are open to the public during special opening times in spring and autumn.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

After walking past the Warehouse (Kuri), the first interesting structure encountered was the Kogetsudai (Moon Viewing Platform) - a massive sand structure which some say resembles Mount Fuji.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

Past the Kogetsudai you will see the the dry sand garden - Ginshadan (Silver Sand Sea) on one side and the Hondo ( Main Hall) on the other.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

A few steps further ahead you can see the Togudo - a 'National Treasure of Japan' building, the only other building as old as the Pavillion in this temple. Opposite the Togudo is a pond containing 'Hakakuto Island'.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

After walking past the temple buildings and sand garden, the route takes you on an uphill path, through the moss garden.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

The superb moss garden contains multiple trees, plants, stone arrangements, waterfalls and torii and the view from the higher levels of the path makes it even more spectacular.

As the garden tour ends, you will have the chance to see the Silver Pavilion in all its splendour and from all angles.

Past the Pavillion, you will find restrooms, a gift shop and the exit.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

How long does a visit to Ginkakuji take?

Visiting the garden at a normal/relaxed pace takes around 30 minutes, but if you take into account queuing at the ticket booth during peak season and stopping every so often to take a few pictures, please consider setting aside 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Ginkakuji, Kyoto

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I hope life is treating you well.

Take care.

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