Ginkaku-ji – The Temple of the Silver Pavilion
Ginkaku-ji, or Temple of the Silver Pavilion, is a beautiful temple with a rich history and beautiful grounds. Discover it all with our guide.
The Temple of the Silver Pavilion or Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺) was originally and officially named Jisho-ji (慈照寺, lit. “Temple of Shining Mercy”) and is part of the Rinzai Zen variation of Buddhism. The Temple is located in Sakyo, Kyoto, and is one of the most frequently visited in the city along with its sister temple – Kinkaku-ji, or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa (a Shogun) created plans for a retirement villa in around 1460, with the express wish that the property should become a Zen temple after his death. Today, Yoshimasa’s villa is known as Ginkaku-ji Temple.
The main temple structure is a two-story hall named Kannon-den, constructed in 1482 to replicate the design and structure of the Golden Pavilion – Kinkaku-ji. Another homage to the older temple was also planned: to coat Ginkaku-ji in silver, just as Kinkaku-ji was plated with gold.
Tumultuous times put the plans on hold, and when Yoshimasa died, they were scrapped altogether. Though future owners and abbots could have completed the work, the uncompleted temple appealed to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi – the notion that there is beauty in imperfection.
The old structure, ravaged by time, was for a long period in dire need of renovation. In 2008, this finally came, along with the opening up of the temple and its grounds to the public. Though some discussion was had over whether to use the original plans and coat the pavilion’s facade in silver, again, wabi-sabi won out and the wood was left bare.
Architecture aside, moss-covered statues, beautiful Japanese gardens and a very popular Zen sand garden make this temple well worth checking out whilst in the city.
As you can see above, there are some clear rules for the temple. No tripods, selfie-sticks, drones, bicycles or food allowed.
Mon – Sun
08.30 am – 05.00 pm (Mar – Nov)
09.00 am – 04.30 pm (Dec – Feb)
Adult: 500 yen, Children: 300 yen
Sakyo, Kyoto, Japan
The easiest way to get to Ginkaku-ji Temple is by bus, as it is slightly removed from Kyoto’s train lines. Your best bet is taking the bus N°100 from Kyoto Station right up to Ginkaku-ji-Mae Bus Stop and walking the short distance from there to the temple grounds. Check the map below for alternative routes.