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Kinkaku-ji Temple (2/6)
Kinkaku-ji Temple (3/6)
Ryoan-ji Temple's Rock Garden (4/6)
Ryoan-ji Temple's Rock Garden (5/6)
Ryoan-ji Temple (6/6)


Golden and austere, contrasting two of Tokyo's highlighs



400¥ 9:00 - 17:00

The Kinkaku-ji, or the Temple of the Golden Pavillion, is a Buddhist Temple formally known as Rokuon-ji, or the Deer Garden Temple, which is registered as World Culturage Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1994. It is one of Kyoto's most visited and famous sites for its celebrated Kinkaku, a three story Buddhist Hall set in a pond and containing relics of Buddha, which is completely covered in pure gold leaf.

The Kikkaku-ji was originally conceived as a private villa for a powerful statesman and received the name of Kitayama-dai. In 1397 the ruling Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, acquired the villa and in 1408, after his death, it was transformed into a Zen Temple by his son according to his will. During the long lasting Onin civil war all of the buildings of the Kinkaku-ji were burnt down several times. The golden pavilion itself was burnt down more recently, in 1950, by a novice monk. The present structure is a reconstruction dating from 1955 and it is considered to be a close copy of the original.

The garden of Kinkaku-ji was designed to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world and implements the idea of "borrowed scenery", integrating the surroundings of the Temple to create a unique landscape. The Pavilion is set on a large pond in the center of the garden, which creates a perfect reflection of the structure on its waters. The pond contains several islets which are said to have different shapes depending of the viewing angle and represent different motifs, such as fishing boats or the Japanese archipielago.


500¥ 8:00 - 17:00

Ryoan-ji, or the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon, is a Zen Buddhist Temple located in northern Kyoto and registered as World Heritage Site since 1994, best known for its unique rock garden. Originally created as a private residence for an important clan, it was acquired in 1450 by another powerful warlord to be converted into a Zen training Temple. The Temple was destroyed by fire during the Onin war, but rebuilt soon after in 1499.

Ryoan-ji's garden is considered to be one of the best surviving examples of kare-sansui, or dry landscape, a Zen garden style featuring large and uniquely shaped rocks set on a sea of white pebbles. The origins, author and meaning of the garden is unclear to this date, but theories say it may represent a group to tiger cubs crossing the water. The garden consists of 15 boulders covered with moss, placed in a way that only 14 can be seen at once when looking from any angle. It is believed that one has to reach enlightenment to be able to view all 15 of them.

Aside from the rock garden, which is contemplated from the veranda of the head priest's former residence, Ryoan-ji features a water garden, with a large pond dating from the 12th century, and a Tea house garden with a unique stone water basin named Tsukubai, famous for its circularly arranged inscription which reads "I learn only to be contented". According to Zen teachings, the ones who learn only to be contented are spiritually rich.


Kinkakuji-michi Station
Bus no. 12,59,101,102,204,205

Kinkakuji-mae Station
Bus no.12,59

Ryoanji-mae Station
Bus no. 59


Kinkakuji can be reached in a short walk from Kinkakuji-michi or Kinkakuji-mae bus stations. From Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji can be reached in a 20 minute walk or in a 5min bus ride to Ryoanji-mae station on line 59.