Ginkakuji

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Culture-Temple

The lesser-known cousin of the golden Kinkakuji, this unassuming but beautiful temple is a symbol of Kyoto’s refined past. Originally the Higashiyama Palace of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, it became a Zen temple under the Rinzai school following his death at the end of the 15th century. A keen pursuer of aesthetic beauty, Yoshimasa sought help from a number of Zen monks in the design and included inspiration from Kinkakuji (his grandfather’s villa) as well as Saihoji, also known as the moss temple. The temple’s garden is the only surviving example overseen by Yoshimasa’s, although famous Noh actor Zeami was responsible for most of the layout. An art lover, Yoshimasa was a cultural leader in his era and Ginkakuji became a hub of creativity, nicknamed Higashiyama Culture. This style was considered contemporary and impacted the arts nationwide, including tea ceremony, theater, ikebana and architecture. Evidence of this can be seen in the gardens, building design and decoration - although the interiors are not open to the public apart from special opening times in spring and autumn. The gardens, however, can be explored using trailing paths, with stunning views at every turn. The sand garden, called the Sea of Silver Sand, is home to the moon viewing platform - a perfectly sculpted cone arising from neatly raked rows. The moss garden has a wilder forest-like element while the pond offers a beautiful reflection of the villa. Considered an example of wabi-sabi in contrast to the golden inspiration, Ginkakuji was never silver, but is believed to have a silver tint to the thatched roof when hit by moonlight. Hours: Mar - Nov: 8.30am - 5pm, Dec - Feb: 9am - 4.30pm
  • Details
  • 2 Ginkakujichō, Sakyō-ku, Kyoto, 606-8402, Japan
  • Entry
    Standard 500.00 JPY
    Kids 300.00 JPY Under 15
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    Physical 2
    Culture 4
    Fun 3
    Education 3
  • Tags
    Family friendly
    Romantic
    Hidden gem

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