Ginkakuji is a lovely Zen temple with beautiful grounds and is located along the Higashiyama mountains in eastern Kyoto. The temple can be reached by bus direct from Kyoto station which takes about 40 minutes.  Also, taking about 35 minutes Ginkakuji can be reached by walking from Nanzenji Temple via the Philosopher’s Path. When we visited, we had decided to make Ginkakuji our first stop of the day, and so in the morning we took the bus from Kyoto Station to the temple.

                                                                                                                          Ginkakuji was built in 1482 by a shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa as his retirement villa and was modelled after this grandfather’s villa, Kinkakuji. His villa in 1490 was converted into a Zen temple after this death, of which today Ginkakuji consists of several temple building including the Silver Pavilion. 

Ginkakuji - Sea of Silver Sand

We continued on the footpath around the raked sand and past some temple buildings, the paths then flowed through the Ginkakuji impressive and beautiful moss garden which featured ponds with islands, bridges, streams and an array of shrubs and trees, including, azalea’s, pines and maples.

Ginkakuji - Garden_2

The path climbed up into the hill side behind the buildings and to a stunning viewpoint were the entire temple grounds can be seen with Kyoto city in the background.       

View of Ginkakuji from above

Please find our other Kyoto articles in the 'Kyoto' section of the website.

Ginkakuji Map

After taking the bus Ginkakuji is only a short walk from the bus stop, and after paying the very reasonable 500yen (£3.50) entry fee, as soon as we walked into the grounds there were fantastically meticulously raked dry sand known as the Sea of Silver Sand and a large sand cone named Moon Viewing Platform.

Ginkakuji - Garden_1
Ginkakuji - Garden_3

From there the path meandered back down to where we could get a much closer view of the Silver Pavilion, and a great spot for a photo or two! From there the path led to the exit of the grounds. 

Ginkakuji - Silver Pavilion

It’s interesting to know that although Ginkakuji is referred to as the Silver Pavilion, it was never covered in silver. So, it’s believed that the name was a nickname given more than a century after its construction to contrast it with the Golden Pavilion, Kinkakuji. Although some say in the past when the building was covered in black lacquer the moon light would reflect of its dark exterior and create a silvery appearance.

                                                                                                                            There are only two building on the grounds of Ginkakuji that have survived the many fires and earthquakes over the centuries, bucking the trend one being the Silver Pavilion itself!! The Silver Pavilion is under regular maintenance to keep it well preserved.