Kyoto is Japan’s cultural capitol and home to over 2000 temples & shrines to visit, but it’s hard to know which ones to see when you only have a few days. This time, Kansai resident Kevin Riley and I debate two of the most visited zen Buddhist temples: Kinkakuji vs Ginkakuji
▶︎ KINKAKU-JI (1397)
Kinkakuji is called the “Golden Pavilion” or Golden Temple and is the more popular of the two because of its iconic gold leaf exterior. It was built in 1397.
★ PROS: It’s one of the famous scenes in Japan
★ CONS: It’s too crowded except for the first 15 minutes of the day. The surrounding gardens are kind of boring compared to other temples & shrines and there isn’t much to do in the area. Few shops and restaurants. There is no subway or train nearby. It can take up to an hour to arrive by bus from JR Kyoto Station when there is traffic.
● Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/pLYZuFBxzKp
▶︎ GINKAKU-JI (1490)
Ginkakuji is called the “Silver Pavilion” or Silver Temple and is located on the East side of Kyoto and the start to the famous “Philosopher’s Path” which eventually gets you to Kiyomizudera. Ginkakuji was supposed to be covered in silver foil but the Shogun who was building it died before it’s completion and the decision not to complete it give it a wabi-sabi aesthetic to it. It has a sand garden and a hilltop view.
★ PROS: Less crowded than Kinkakuji and the building is surrounded with tree giving it a more zen-like feel / connection to nature. It’s on the East side of the city meaning there is more to do, a shopping street and loads of restaurants outside. The grounds are well groomed, not paved. Lovely moss. Sand garden and small bamboo outcrop near the restrooms.
★ CONS: It’s slightly more expensive than Kinkakuji. The walk from the bus station take 10-12 minutes to arrive on foot.
● Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/WHeJpYTk76A2
▷ How to get to Kinkakuji:
Take the bus in front of JR Kyoto Station. Take bus 101 or 205 (220 yen / $2 / 40-50 minutes)
* There is usually a long queue to ride this bus after 10am.
Take the JR Sanin Main Line to Emmachi Station (2 stops) then grab a taxi (900-1000 yen / $9-$10 / 7 minutes) Total time: 25-30 minutes. You can also take the Metro Karasuma Line from JR Kyoto station to Kitaoji then grab a taxi.
▷ Special thank you to Kevin Riley! Check out his channel Kuma’s Kitchen here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr4ycI70MEjcVgmm0y4IsYQ
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The video was produced and created by John Daub.
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