Kinkaku (The Golden Pavilion)


  • Business: National Park
  • Hours: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
  • Price: $$
  • Constructed: 1397
  • Telephone: 075-461-0013
  • Address: 〒603-8231, Kyoto-Shi, Kita-Ku, Kinkaku-ji-Chō 1

A strolling garden containing relics of Buddha

Kinkaku (The Golden Pavilion) is a shariden, a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha. The name Kinkaku is from the gold leaf that covers the entire building. Gold’s significance is to dissolve and purify any pollution or negative thoughts and feelings towards death.


The pavilion is part of a temple that is formally known as Rokuon-ji Temple. Rokuon-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple, in the Shokokuji School of the Rinzai sect. This area was originally the site of a villa called Kitayama-dai and owned by a statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the 3rd shogun of the Muromachi period, took a liking to the area and acquired it from the Saionji family in 1397. Yoshimitsu later built his villa, which he named Kitayama-den.


The well-crafted gate towards The Golden Pavilion.

The garden and building centered on the Golden Pavilion were said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world. The villa also functions as an official guesthouse, welcoming Emperor Gokomatsu (father of Zen teacher, Ikkyu) and other members of the nobility.

Trade with China prospered during the Muromachi period, and the villa reached its height of glory as of the heart of what became known as Kitayama Culture. After Yoshimitsu died in keeping with his will, the villa was converted into a temple by the priest Muso-kokushi, who became the first abbot.


In 1994, Rokuon-Ji Temple was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site. It was restored after having been burned down on numerous occasions during times of war.


In 1994, Rokuon-Ji Temple was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

Fold foil on lacquer covers the upper two levels of Kinkaku, and a shining phoenix sits on the roof in the shinden style of the 11th-century imperial aristocracy; the second level is in the bike style of the warrior aristocracy, and the top level is in the Chinese zenshu-butsuden form. Kinkaku is a representation of Muromachi-period architecture.

Enjoy the serenity of the pond!


The water of Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond) creates a strong reflection of the temple from the sunlight. The pond with the Golden Pavilion and islets large and small is the center of the garden. Rocks donated by various provincial lords of the period are throughout the garden. As a pond garden designed for strolling, it is typical of the Muromachi period. The garden is a National Special Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty.

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