Ginkakuji: Kyoto’s Silver Zen

Unlike its golden cousin Kinkakuji on the opposite side of Kyoto, Ginkakuji has a more humble appeal to it.


The two, however, have much in common as Ginkakuji (銀閣寺) was inspired by Kinkakuji and it also was a retirement villa turned into a temple. The original design of the pavilion intended it be covered in silver leaf but in the end the shogun could no longer afford this final touch on the building.

Ginkakuji’s surrounding gardens are far more vast and lush. Upon entering the temple’s precinct you will first see a gravel-garden named the Sea of Silver Sand. The lines in the gravel are carefully maintained to represent rolling waves with a cone of sand, the Moon Viewing Platform, representing Mount Fuji.


As you pass through the sea you find yourself in a garden landscape leading up to the hills resembling an ideal landscape. Strolling along the paved walkways the moss-covered landscape feels more natural and disorderly than the arranged garden you left a moment ago. The humbleness of Ginkakuji truly shines as you admire it from various angles in the garden and surrounding hills.




Name: Ginkakuji
Address: 2 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8402
Opening hours: 09:00–17:00
Admission Fee: 500 yen

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