Seeing Gold in Kyoto

Before I get on with this post and show you the amazing-ness that is the Golden Pavillion, can we just take a minute to appreciate this semi-street art? This was spotted inside someones garage while walking to the train station and I just think it is so awesome.


Anyway, back on to what this post is really about – Kinkaku-Ji – Kyoto’s famous Golden Temple!

After a fricking delightful start to the day at Arashiyama (check it out here – you will not regret it) my friend Kaisha and I had to work our way from Saga Arashiyama Station North-East towards the base of Daimonji Yama mountain.

If you are travelling from Saga-Arashiyama Station: Catch the San-In line bound for Kyoto and get off at Emmachi Station. From Emmachi, walk 2 minutes (the direction is well signed) to a nearby bus stop and get on bus number 205. Get off at the Kinkaku-ji Michi stop – from there, it is just a short walk to the temple.

If you are travelling directly from Kyoto Station, catch the city bus 101 or 205 for 40 minutes to Kinkaku-ji Michi stop. This trip will set you back around Β₯230 ($2.50).

Entrance to Kinkaku-ji costs Β₯400 ($5) and it is well worth the money. This temple is definitely a touristy destination (no off the beaten track travel here) but it is one of those places that is worth braving the crowds for.


The history of the Golden Pavillion is incredibly interesting. The temple that is standing now is far from the originally constructed building.

The glorious structure was first constructed in 1393 as a retirement home for Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. The entirety of the temple was intended to be covered with gold but he only managed to finish the third floor ceiling before his death in 1409. If you read my post about Ginkaku-Ji (the Silver Pavillion) then you may be sensing a theme here!

After the Shoguns death, the building was converted to a zen temple by his son. However, during the Onin War (1467-1477) the temple was burnt down several times. Despite this, it was always rebuilt.

Then in 1950 a fanatical monk once again set flames to the temple. It was rebuilt in 1955 and the result of this rebuild is what remains today.


Though this temple may not be hundreds of years old, that it no way takes away from the utter gorgeousness of it, and also of its surrounding grounds. The small lake provides some truly glorious reflections, the greenery is as lush as can be and there are more photo opportunities than you can poke a stick at.


As I had expected, the place was fairly packed when we were visiting. What I had not expected was how many classes of local kids would be visiting! It seemed like everywhere we went – there was another class of Japanese school children. I would have been so stoked to go on that many excursions when I was in school.

While at Kinkaku-ji, I was approached by a local school teacher who asked if some of her students could ask me questions in English as part of a class assignment. I am not entirely sure if the assignment was about tourism or more about talking to people in a second language, but either way, I was happy to participate! They were all fairly timid, only the boy on the left side of this next photograph was able to go ahead and talk to me. I can’t for the life of me remember what the questions were, just how nervous he looked. It was sweet! Once he was done I asked for a photo and they were willing to oblige but not overly keen. The whole thing was rather funny.


After we were done chatting, it was time to continue our self guided tour of this gorgeous little temple.


I mean, seriously! Even on an overcast day the Golden Pavillion just lights up and illuminates everything around it.

It is stupidly pretty.



Like anywhere in Japan, for the best experience – go early in the morning. But the good thing about Kinkaku-ji is that with the circular lake and the way the grounds are set up, even when the place is full it is still relatively easy to take beautiful shots without a tonne of strangers getting into frame.



Kinkaku-ji is undoubtedly stunning, and if you are ever in Kyoto – it is well worth a visit.


Getting to Kyoto: Though Kansai airport is the closest airport to Kyoto, it is often cheaper to fly into Shin-Osaka airport and catch a short 30 minute train to Kyoto
Getting to Kinkaku-Ji: From Kyoto Station, catch the city bus 101 or 205 to Kinkaku-ji Michi stop
Kinkaku-Ji: Entrance to the temple costs Β₯400
Threads: My white top is by the amazing Tigerlily Swimwear
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens
Remember: Sunscreen – there is very little shade at this temple

Don’t forget to add me on Snapchat and Instagram – @wwellend – for more foolishness and travel adventures!

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, please share it via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest! <3

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30-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

61 thoughts on “Seeing Gold in Kyoto

  1. I went late in the day in October but there were still three incredibly loud school groups. I was stopped a few times in Kyoto by small groups of teens doing school assignments. I noticed that they were fine with asking their pre-arranged questions, but not if I asked them something.

  2. Kinkaku-ji was one of the highlights for me in Kyoto, it’s just so beautiful even if the current structure isn’t as old as the other temples in the area. All that gold is just absolutely mesmerising! Thanks also for stopping by my blog today πŸ™‚

  3. looks amazing! Japan is definitely on my travel list, but now you made me want to visit it even more. thank you for sharing!

  4. It’s gorgeous! I think i could definitely live in that temple (if wifi) lol. I was surprised how many times it burned down. And interesting mini story about the fanatical monk! –Jess

  5. Colour me extremely jealous! Kyoto is a place on my to visit list, and your lovely blog has only whetted my appetite more. Gorgeous temple.

      1. Well, if you add up the combined number of your toes and fingers, that’s getting near it! Seems ages ago now, it was when I was a student, but the memories are so vivid in my mind. So tranquil, so peaceful. Perfect, I think is the word to use! All the best with your travels!

  6. Love it! Your photo selection is pretty much the same as mine. No doubt, 2 million Japanese school kids are thinking the same thing. πŸ™‚ The grounds are astonishing. I was struck by the level of pride that those up-keeping the gardens put into their work. I also contributed to an English assignment, and then was asked for my autograph! πŸ™‚ Such lovely people!

  7. I’m traveling to Italy next March (completely irrelevant to your post lol), but your posts are getting me so excited for my travels! Love your page!

  8. I have a lot of catching up to do on your travels. Sorry to be absent. Thanks for continuing to drop in at Under Western Skies. I appreciated this look at Kyoto, which is obviously a place to put on the list.

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