November 5, 2013

Kyoto : Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion)

I stayed at Hana Hostel, a very nice hostel just about 5 minutes walk from Kyoto Station. So after a quick breakfast at the nearby McDonald's, off I went to Kyoto Station.

I've covered the north-west area yesterday so today I planned to see the north-east area of the city. Already familiar with everything, I bought the Kyoto City Bus One-day Pass at the ticketing machine and joined the queue for Raku Bus #100.

 There is another beautiful Zen temple in Kyoto - Ginkaku-ji, or the Silver Pavilion. Modelled after Kinkaku-ji, it was built as a retirement villa by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. The villa was converted into a Zen temple after Yoshimasa's death in 1490. Yoshimasa was the grandson of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu who built the Kinkaku-ji, so these two temples are always related to each other.

As the pavilion came into sight, I was a bit shocked. Hey am I at the right place?

This isn't a silver pavilion! Naturally, I was expecting a silver pavilion since well... it is known as the Silver Pavilion. Turns out  it was merely a nickname to differentiate it from Golden Pavilion. haha...

The pavilion was originally called Kannon-den and it has two floors. The first floor, Shinku-den is built in Shoin style, traditional Japanese residential architecture style, and the second floor Cho-onkaku is Chinese temple style having Katoumado in the panel wall and a Chinese sliding door. If you notice, there is a bronze phoenix on the roof of the pavilion, which is said to constantly guards Ginkaku-ji.

selfie everywhere... hehe

The temple compound is enjoyed by walking along a circular route around its grounds. Next to the pavilion is a sand garden, known as the Sea of Silver Sand, with a massive sand cone named Moon Viewing Platform.

Then, there is Togu-do, a Buddhist Hall owned by Yoshimasa.

In addition to the pavilion, the hall, and the sand garden, Ginkaku-ji also has a beautiful garden all around.

The walking path then climbs a hill behind the buildings from where visitors can have a bird's-eye view of the entire temple grounds and the city beyond.

the Chinese parasol tree

If I have to choose between the two temples, Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji, I would go for both. Ginkaku-ji may not look as impressive as Kinkaku-ji but the sand garden, as well as the walk round the grounds are really lovely. Plus, I wouldn't want to miss another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 Ginkaku-ji is open all year round
Visiting hours from 8.30 am to 5 pm (9 am to 4.30 pm from Dec - Feb)
Entrance fee is 500 yen (adult), 300 yen (child)
Access : From Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City Bus #5, #17 or Raku Bus #100 to Ginkaku-ji-michi

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