Ginkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto

The Ginkaku-ji or the Silver Pavillion temple is a 15th century Zen Buddhist temple located in Kyoto, the cultural capital of Japan. This temple, which is modeled after the Kinkaku-ji temple, is called Silver Pavillion because it was originally planned to be covered in silver foil. However, for various reasons, those plans did not materialize and the current temple structure is considered to have an “unfinished” appearance. Interestingly, the transient or incomplete nature of the structure is not necessarily a bad thing. In Japan, there is a concept of “wabi sabi”, which essentially means that being imperfect or incomplete is aesthetic in its own way, and it has a unique type of beauty attached to itself.

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                     (the silver pavillion building)

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         (on way to Ginkaku-ji, walking through narrow streets)

The hilly street on way to Ginkaku-ji temple is filled with shops selling souvenirs and food. The Japanese food vendors employ a teasing version of sensory marketing whereby they cook food by the street and lure you in with the smell of the grilled and fried food. The green tea puff was a great vegetarian option and uniquely Japanese snack.

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        (a must try street snack on way to the temple – green tea puff)

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                               (map of temple complex)

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                       (entrance to Ginkaku-ji complex)

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                             (entering the complex)

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                            (ancient roofs made from bamboo)

The Ginkaku-ji temple is famous for its gardens. While it has the traditional looking moss garden with plants and a water pond, it interestingly also has a rock garden which involves a careful and meticulous arrangement of white gravel pieces in various patterns. These patterns sometimes depict some scenery or landscape.

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                   (the famous rock garden of Ginkaku-ji)

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                             (depicting Mt. Fuji facing the moon)

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                                                         (rock garden)

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 (The scene of mountain in white gravel is referred as Ginshadan – sand of silver and open sea)

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                           (beautifully raked gravel patterns)

As you walk around the temple complex, you will come across various halls which display Shoin architecture. There is a main hall called Hondo hall, which has paintings on the sliding wooden doors of the hall. These stunning paintings are few centuries old.

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                                         (Hondo hall – main hall)

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                                 (paintings on the sliding doors)

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                                (colourful trees in the moss garden)

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                                      (authentic Japanese garden design)

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                     (the silver pavillion seen through the garden area)

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                          (small waterfall in the garden)

If you look closely, you will realize that the picture below is not a picture of the trees and the sky, but rather it is a picture of the REFLECTION of the sky and trees. The water in the pond is so still and calm that such photography is possible in the Ginkaku-ji temple.

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                                  (picture of the pond reflection)

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                              (people throw coins for good luck)

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                                                        (garden walk)

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      (a peculiar kind of moss which grows in the Ginkaku-ji temple complex)

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     (walking past the gardens, the path leads to a small hill)

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                                             (view from hill top)

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                       (Kyoto city in background from hill top)

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Items: Ginkaku-ji Temple (Temple of the Silver Pavilion)

Price: Around ₹302 or japanese yen 500 for entry.

Location: 2 Ginkakujicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8402, Japan

Telephone: +81 75-771-5725    Timings: 8:30 am to 5 pm (9 am to 4.30 pm from December to February), open everyday

Type: Cultural/Historic/UNESCO World Heritage Site

How to get there: By Bus – Take any of the numbers 5, 17, 100, 32, 203 (32, 203 from Karasuma) to Ginkaku-ji michi stop and then walk 5 mins east. Takes 40 mins from Kyoto station and costs ₹131 or japanese yen 220 one way. For bus map, go here and scroll all the way to the bottom to Other Information where it says: Route Map – City Bus Sightseeing Map “Busnavi”. Download the second option ‘download 2′. You can also walk along the famous Philosopher’s Walk to get to Ginkaku-ji temple.

Language: Mainly Japanese. May find English audio guide.

Also visit: Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion Temple) 

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