Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto

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Domo arigato.
  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Sand Cone Named Moon Viewing Platform

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Sand Cone Named Moon Viewing Platform

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple with Sand Garden in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple with Sand Garden in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple In Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Moos Garden in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Moos Garden in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Moos Garden in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Moos Garden in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Moos Garden in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Moos Garden in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Sengetsu-sen Falls in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Sengetsu-sen Falls In Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion In Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

    Ginkaku-ji Temple Silver Pavilion in Kyoto

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Facts & Figures

Ginkaku-ji Temple also know as "Temple of the Silver Pavilion" is one of the most famous Zen temples in Kyoto, besides Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera. The temple area and its buildings are a perfect showcase for the Higashiyama Culture of Muromachi period (1338–1573). The architectural highlight is the two-story Kannon Hall (Ginkaku, Silver Pavilion). In the beginning it was planned to cover the exterior of the hall in silver foil, but this plan was never realised because of the death of its founder shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436 – 1490) in 1490. Ginkaku-ji has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Best Ryokans in Kyoto Explore Ryokans in Kyoto
Ryokans are the perfect way to discover old Japanese culture and traditions.
The sand garden ("Sea of Silver Sand") of Ginkaku-ji has become particularly well known for the massive sand cone called "Moon Viewing Platform” (Ginshadan) which symbolize Mount Fuji. The whole temple complex with its beautiful moos and dry sand gardens, Silver Pavilion and 6 smaller structures was one of the highlights of my Kyoto temple tour. Ginkaku-ji is also at the starting point of the very popular Philosopher's Walk in Kyoto. It is a must see destination during your visit, especially in the cherry blossom season (April - May).

  • Ginkaku-ji
  • Opening Hours - 9:00 am to 4:30 pm (December to March)
  • Opening Hours - 8:30 am to 5:00 pm (rest of the year)
  • Admission Fee - 500 yen (Adults), 300 yen (Junior High and Elementary School Students)

My tips for local activities

Explore the best parts of my favourite city Kyoto with a local guide. The tour takes approximately 3,5hrs. Check out this page for more details.

History

Ginkaku-ji or its officially name Jisho-ji (Temple of Shining Mercy) was built in 1460 as the retirement villa for shogun and art lover Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436 - 1490). In 1482 he added the Silver Pavilion to the property. The model or blueprint for his villa was Kinkaku-ji or "Temple of the Golden Pavilion" constructed by his grandfather Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358 - 1408). Ashikaga Yoshimasa became a Zen Buddhist monk in 1485. After his death the villa was turned into a temple and belongs now to the Buddhist Shokoku School of the Rinzai Zen sect. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. The last extensive restoration of the temple started in 2008 and were completed in 2010.

Location

Map of Japan

Ginkaku-ji is located along Kyoto's eastern mountains (Higashiyama) within the Sakyo ward.
Address: 2 Ginkakuji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto

How to get to Ginkaku-ji?

  • 40min from Kyoto Station by bus 5, 17, 102, 203 and 204 to Ginkakuji-michi and
  • walk from there 10min to Ginkaku-ji

Sightseeing spots at Ginkaku-ji

Top:

Kannon Hall (Ginkaku, Silver Pavilion) - The beautiful and elegant two-story building contains a statue of Kannon (Buddhist goddess of mercy). Unfortunately it is not open for the public. Only the paintings of Buson Yosa (1717 - 1783) and Ike no Taiga (1723 - 1776) at the sliding-door panels (fusuma) can be seen. The exterior was never covered in silver foil and therefore makes it a perfect example of wabi-sabi - a Japanese philosophy about accepting imperfections.

Japanese Garden - The dry sand garden, also know as Sea of Silver Sand, was designed by artist and architect Soami (1465-1523). Its highlight is the sand cone with a height of 2 meters. Behind the Togudo building you will find a moos garden, which consists of ponds, streams, little islands and bridges.

Togudo Hall (East Seeking Hall) - The rectangular building was constructed in the shoin-zukuri style in 1468 and has the status of a Japanese National Treasures. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436 – 1490) has lived here. He used the back room called Dojin-sai (Comradely Abstinence) for tea ceremonies. The interior design of this place is the oldest example of a tea ceremony room in the country. It was designed by Murata Shuko (1423 - 1503), founder of the Japanese tea ceremony. This arrangement became the role model for tea pavilions all over Japan. A little fresh-water stream behind the building was used for the ceremony.

Sengetsu-sen Falls - You will find this little waterfall on the southeastern end of the Nishiki Kagami Ike pond. It brings fresh water to the lower gardens of the Togudo Hall and Ginkaku.

Festival & Events (dates can change without notice)

May

Spring Special - Opening of Ginkaku-ji (1st - 6th)
During the first week of May you have the unique chance to visit the Togudo Hall and Dojin-sai (tea ceremony room). Both have the status of a Japanese National Treasure.

Aoi Matsuri (15th)
The highlight of this festival is a large parade from Imperial Palace through Shimogamo Shrine to the Kamo Shrines. More than 500 people wearing aristocratic costumes from the Heian Period (794 - 1185). The Aoi Matsuri belongs with the Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri to the three most famous festivals in Kyoto.

July

Gion Matsuri (whole month)
The month July is full of different events like the Yoiyama - Kyoto's Magical Night (locals in kimonos look at the giant Gion floats the day before the parade) or the famous Yamaboko Junko (float procession on the 17th of July).

October

Jidai Matsuri ("Festival of Ages") (22nd)
People celebrate with a large parade between Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. App. 2000 participants wearing historical costumes from different time periods. Enjoy this great festival which last around 2 hours.

My 100 Best Moments in Japan

Train ride from Osaka to Kyoto

I am visiting Japan nearly every year since 2004. This is my collection of the 100 best moments in my favourite country. Enjoy the pictures and I hope you will start your own journey soon.
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