Silver Temple (Ginkaku-ji, 銀閣寺) – Kyoto | Travel Information

Commonly known as ‘Silver Pavilion’, or ‘Ginkaku-ji’, the temple is officially known as ‘Jishō-ji’. Jishō-ji is a Zen temple tucked away in the mountains to the east of the city of Kyoto (Higashiyama. Lit. East Mountain). The Temple was built in 1482 by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. Ashikaga Yoshimasa, who originally planned the building for his private retirement villa, but following his death, it was converted into a temple. You may notice some similarities between the Golden temple (Kinkaku-ji) and the Ginkaku-ji. 

Ginkaku-ji

This is because Ashikaga Yoshimasa wanted his retirement villa to be similar to his grandfather’s villa, which we know today as Kinkaku-ji. Ginkaku-ji has a significantly rougher appearance compared Kinkaku-ji. This is because the temple embraces the Japanese design style of ‘Wabi-sabi’, which to give a basic explanation, means to find the perfection in things of which are imperfect. Initially, the building was supposed to be lined with silver foil to match the Kinkaku-ji, which boasts a fabulous gold foil. Instead, the temple was given it’s silver sheen from a locally produced lacquer, which made it appear to be silver. However, Ashikaga Yoshimasa had passed away before his work could have been completed, and therefore the foil was never added to the building. Today, we see pretty much the same thing that Yoshimasa had seen before he had passed away. Before Yoshimasa passed away in 1490, he had become a Buddhist Monk in the year 1485. He had arranged before he died, that his property would become a Buddhist temple, which is why today, it’s known as the Silver Temple/Pavilion. 

Remarkably, the pavilion is one of 2 surviving buildings from original construction, despite the numerous natural disasters (Fires, Earthquakes, etc.). Maintenance was recently completed in 2009, which was just structural work to further preserve the temple. In 2009, a committee voted against reapplying the lacquer coat when the renovations were underway. 

 

The Gardens of ginkaku-ji, with Hondo and Togudo in the background behind the trees.
Similarly to Kinkaku-ji, the building is not the only activity to see and do at the property.  There is an immaculate garden, which was a backdrop for Hondo – the main hall, and Togudo, the most historically and culturally significant buildings within the Ginkaku-ji  grounds. The Hondo, is a hall currently exhibiting the artwork on the Traditional sliding doors. To preserve the features of both Hondo and Togudo, restrictions are in place to ensure the safety of the historical artifacts.

Togudo is the other building on the Ginkaku-ji property which had withstood the test of time. The Togudo building you see today is the same Tugudo building from over half a millennium.
If you’re in the mood for a little walk, there is a pathway leading up the side of the nearby hill, which takes you up to a viewing area of the entire Gingaku-ji area, as well as the city of Kyoto serving as your backdrop – a perfect place to stop and stare as the beautiful scenery

Accessing Ginkaku-Ji

Ginkaku-ji is admittedly, not that easy to get to without the use of a car, seeing as the nearest train station of over 2km away. Sure you can take the 30 minute walk from Demachiyangi Station, following the stunning philosophers path, but there is a simpler way if you are a little short for time.

If you are leaving from Kyoto Station, which for ease, is highly recommended, you can take the 100 bus, which goes right to Ginkaku-ji. 

If your going to be exploring Kyoto by bus, then you should probably get a Kyoto Day bus pass, for only 500JPY, you get unlimited rides on the Kyoto City Bus, meaning you can also get to the Kinkaku-ji for cheap and easy, since the kinkaku-ji is also on the outskirts of the city. 

Hours & Admission Fees

  • 8:30am-5:00pm
  • 9:00am-4:30pm (December until February)
  • 500

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