Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavlion)

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Ginkakuji, also known as the Silver Pavilion, is one of the most popular and iconic tourist destinations in Kyoto. Despite its name, it is not covered in silver as its counterpart Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) is in gold. The temple’s official name is Jisho-ji, which translates to “Temple of Shining Mercy”. But it’s the moniker Ginkakuji that has taken root in the minds of visitors, who are drawn by its sublime Zen architecture, tranquillity, and moss gardens. The temple was established in 1482 by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the 8th shogun of the Muromachi period, as a retirement villa and later converted into a Zen temple after his death.

The Temple and its Scenic Beauty

The Silver Pavilion, though devoid of silver, enchants visitors with its understated elegance and beautiful gardens. Its two-story Kannon-den serves as the main structure, combining the Shoin style on the first floor with a Zen temple design on the second.

Around the temple, you’ll find an immaculately maintained sand garden known as the “Sea of Silver Sand”, with a large sand cone called the “Moon Viewing Platform”. The moss garden, a labyrinth of foliage and ponds filled with islands and bridges, offers a peaceful stroll.

Practical Information for a Seamless Visit

Ginkakuji is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, with last entry at 4:30 pm. There is a small entrance fee, which contributes to the temple’s upkeep.

  • By Train and Bus: From Kyoto Station, you can catch the Kyoto City Bus number 5, 17, or 100 to the Ginkakuji-michi stop. The bus journey takes approximately 35-40 minutes and costs around 230 yen one way. Please note that Kyoto’s bus system can be crowded, particularly during tourist seasons.
  • By Walking: For those interested in a scenic route, consider walking from Nanzenji Temple along the Philosopher’s Path to reach Ginkakuji. This leisurely stroll takes approximately 30-45 minutes and is free of charge, allowing you to absorb the tranquil ambiance of the city as you traverse its charming streets.

Why You Should Visit Ginkakuji

A visit to Ginkakuji is a journey into the heart of Japanese aesthetics, where the celebration of simplicity and mindfulness reigns supreme. The moss garden provides a refreshing, green space to soothe your mind, while the sand garden captures the spirit of ‘wabi-sabi’ – the art of finding beauty in imperfection. Whether you’re interested in architecture, history, or simply the peace and tranquillity, Ginkakuji has something for every traveler.


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