Right on the opposite side of Kinkakuji (鹿苑寺; Golden Pavilion) lies Ginkakuji (慈照寺) at the foot of the Eastern mountains (Higashiyama(東山)).
It served as the retirement villa of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, whose grandfather resided in Kinkakuji decades before. Thus, Ginkakuji was built with the Golden Pavilion as a template and was also converted into a Zen temple when Yoshimasa passed away in 1490.
Unfortunately, Ginkakuji is not covered in Silver leafs, even though the name (Gin=Silver) suggests it.
As Kinkakuji is located at the base of the Northern mountains, the culture that developed there was called Kitayama (northern mountains) culture. In contrary to this, Higashiyama culture was cultivated.
History & Facts
While the Kitayama culture only really influenced Kyoto (京都) itself, the Higashiyama culture was more than that, introducing cultural activities like tea ceremonies, flower arrangements or poetry all over Japan (日本).
Unlike Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji is still surrounded by a few other buildings that formed the shogun’s residence back then. Apart from that, a beautiful moss garden and a dry sand garden can be enjoyed.
You cannot enter the temple itself but seeing it from the outside is impressive enough in my opinion. It has two stories, which are built in two different architectural styles.
The temple has survived countless fires and earthquakes, hence was never completely destroyed. There are of course maintenances going on, the last construction was finished in 2010, improving its resistance against earthquakes.
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As soon as you enter the premise, you can see Ginkakuji on your right. To the left, the path leads along a beautiful sand garden into a moss garden. Next to the path there are two other buildings.
The first one is the Hondo (main hall) and the second one is the other remaining temple building besides Ginkakuji itself, the Togudo. Both buildings are not open to the public and can only be viewed from the outside.
After passing the Togudo, you will enter the wonderful moss garden with all its ponds, streams and plants. The path leads up the mountain, providing a wonderful view of the area and Kyoto as well when you reach the highest point.
On my day here, I was very lucky with the weather. It was a sunny and clear day, so the view was fantastic.
Even though I came to Japan with my friend, I went here alone as he was not feeling like going. Experiencing such a sight alone was an amazing experience.
The way of traveling
A little off-topic, but for the younger ones of you, I definitely recommend going with a friend or family if you can. I don’t know if everything would have gone as smoothly alone. It’s very helpful to think things through with at least one more person.
I understand though, that finding people that want to go to Japan can be a little tough. I was lucky enough to have a friend like that.
Good luck to you!
But I also recommend doing stuff alone from time to time, to really appreciate the atmosphere and fully dive into the moment.
Whether you go alone or with others, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! That’s the most important.
Jumping back to Ginkakuji, definitely come here, a must-see spot of Kyoto!
While not as popular as its golden counterpart, be ready for quite a lot of visitors, especially during peak times.
Opening Hours & Admission Fee
- Ginkakuji is open every day from 8:30am – 5pm
- There are no closing days throughout the year
- Entrance Fee is 500 Yen (3,85€/$4.55)
Start at Kyoto Station:
You can reach Ginkakuji with bus (バス) number 5, 17 or 100 in about 35-40 minutes. The ride costs 230 Yen (1,77€/$2.10).
Alternatively, you can first walk to Shichijo Station (七条駅) for around 15 minutes, take the Keihan Main Line (Red) for 8 minutes and 270 Yen (2,08€/$2.45) and then walk to Ginkakuji for another 35-40 minutes.
This may look like way too much of a hassle, but if you have the time, I definitely recommend every chance you can get to walk around the city, as it is beautiful all around and you never know what you can find along the way.
And that is it for Ginkakuji! It’s not far away from Kinkakuji, so you could easily visit both within a day! That’s the best way to get a feel for their differences and similarities.
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See you there!