• Menu

Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple you cannot miss in Kyoto

Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple, is a must-see destination in Kyoto. Experience the stunning beauty of the temple and its surrounding grounds.

Discover the beauty and history of one of the most impressive sanctuaries in the world with us! Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, is a wonderful place to visit in Kyoto. We will tell you the necessary information to visit it, how to get there and what you can expect to see one of the most visited places in Kyoto.

Brief presentation of the Golden Temple of Kyoto

The Golden Temple of Kyoto, also known as Kinkakuji, is an architectural jewel located in the northwest of the Japanese city. This impressive Buddhist temple was built in the 14th century and features a three-story golden structure that rises majestically over a garden-fringed pond.

The Golden Temple is part of the set of Historical Monuments of ancient Kyoto (cities of Kyoto, Uji and Otsu) declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994.

The structure of the temple features three different architectural styles: shinden-zukuri (palace style), buke-zukuri (samurai style) and zen style. Its upper part is covered with gold leaf, and the decoration includes mythological figures and Buddhist religious stories.

Kinkakuji Golden Temple is undoubtedly one of the main tourist attractions in Kyoto, and its unique beauty makes it a magical and unforgettable place to visit. Visitors can enjoy not only the temple, but also the surrounding natural scenery, as well as the walking paths near the pond.

Origins of the temple and its founder

The temple was founded by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in 1397 as his villa for rest and retirement. After his death, the building became a temple of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.

Gardens of the Golden Temple

The Gardens are as impressive as the Kinkakuji temple itself, they were designed to be enjoyed from specific vantage points and are carefully curated to create a sense of balance and harmony with nature.

A particularly striking feature of the Kinkakuji Gardens is its “mirror pond” which perfectly reflects the image of the Golden Temple on its surface, creating a breathtaking sight that captures the hearts of visitors.

Also, during the fall, you can witness an explosion of colors throughout these serene grounds as the leaves change color, making it an unforgettable experience to be in this magical place.

kinkakuji Golden temple

Looking for a flight ?
Book your tickets at the best price here!

Information for your visit

How much does Kinkakuji cost?

Admission to the Golden Temple costs 500 yen.

Which are the schedules?

At the time we went it was from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

If you have time to discover more places in Kyoto, we recommend taking a Kyoto Walking Tour.

Golden temple Kinkakuji
And there the golden temple was waiting for us.

How to get to the golden temple?

From Kyoto train station, take bus number 205 or 101.

The ticket price is 230 yen and it will take about 40 minutes to get there.

Another option to get there is to take the Karasuma subway line, in the direction of Kitaoji station (15 minutes, 260 yen) and from there take a taxi (10 minutes, 1300 yen) or instead of the taxi, take bus 101, 102, 204 or 205.

In our case we took the 205 bus from Kyoto station, maybe it takes more time, but it is only one means of transportation that you have to take.

Recommendations for taking the bus in Kyoto

It was the first time we got on a city bus in Kyoto, or even in Japan, we tell you some things that you should consider:

  • People climb in from the backdoor.
  • You pay when you go down (from the front) and yes, they trust that you will pay for what you have consumed.
  • There are seats reserved for the elderly and people in need and it is respected!
  • You will notice that the seats are generally smaller than what we are used to in Mexico (or in European countries). We barely fit in the two-person seats.
  • At first, it was stressful hearing everything in Japanese in the truck, the fear of missing the stop entered, but there are screens that show them written in romaji too, you have to be very attentive, and then you get used to it.
  • In Kyoto, as in several European countries, the stops are already predefined, meaning you can’t get off anywhere.
Bus ad Kyoto

What is a visit to Kinkakuji Temple like?

Upon arriving at the temple, we would see, what would be a constant during visits to temples in Kyoto: school groups. But don’t get flustered, Japanese teenagers are orderly, no matter how scandalous they can be if we compare them with those from other countries, they are quite calm.

Also, something significant: they show a lot of respect for tourists and the elderly, and yes, we were already within that group for them.

Don’t throw away the ticket, it’s a piece of art

So, walking, we arrived at the booth where you have to buy the entrance ticket, which again, nobody checks at the entrance, but they trust that you will be honest and pay. The ticket itself is already a reward because it is stunning.

Look for an angle to enjoy the golden temple

And we got to the Golden Temple, but oh no, it’s mega crowded. We went as early as we could, considering the time it takes to get there, oh well. Here we could not apply our advice to avoid the hordes.

But since we were already there, we had to make the most of it and in the photos it even seems that there was nobody in the place, but it’s just a trick and despite the crowd, the Kinkakuji temple is really worth it, since it’s charming. It seems to be made of pure gold and if you keep looking towards the temple you can be transported to the time of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.

Seeing the reflection of the water, sometimes it seemed to us that there were two temples.

Kinkakuji reflection
Beautiful reflections in the water

How beautiful is the temple. But here is the truth of what is not seen in the postcard photos.

Lots of people at Kinkakuji
Everyone fighting for the best place to take photos

Admire it only from outside

You cannot enter the temple itself, so all that remains is to admire it from the outside and go around it, so we followed the arrows that indicated where to go.

On the way we came across some Buddha statues that were full of coins, then we understood the reason: people were trying to hit the pot that was in the middle of everything.

Another of the temple

Kinkakuji Temple Souvenirs

Almost when leaving the place you will find souvenir shops, charms (if you want a charm for good health with the drawing of Hello Kitty this is your place, no joke), and snacks. Also, a significant place: the bathrooms.

No podia faltar el incienso purificador

Another nearby temple that you can’t miss

And on the way we got thirsty and of course the vending machines were there to save us (for a few yen).

After exploring the beauty of Kinkakuji, you may want to continue visiting more of Kyoto. One such place is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ryoan-ji Temple, famous for its zen garden that features 15 rocks carefully arranged on white gravel.

Don’t leave Kyoto without seeing this place

In conclusion, Kinkakuji temple is an essential part of any visit to Kyoto, especially if it is your first time there.

This golden temple will leave an indelible mark on your memory from the moment you see it for the first time, until the experience of walking through its grounds.

Some of the links in this article include affiliate links. This means that if you buy a product listed here by following these links, we'll receive a commission. The use of this link does not increase the final price for you and thus helps us to keep our blog alive.

Olga Grijalva

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.

View stories