Its famous Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku) — actually a pagoda made to house the sacred relics of the Buddha — has given this temple the popular name of Kinkaku-ji ("Temple of the Golden Pavilion"), however the official name of this branch temple of the Rinzai-sect Zen temple of Shôkoku-ji is Rokuon-ji. The temple was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

<< Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkaku-ji is located in Kinkakuji-chô, Kita-ku, in the northwester corner of Kyoto. It is a beautiful area, with the mountains Kinugasayama to the west and Hidari Daimonjiyama behind it. The range of mountains running along the northern part of Kyoto is known as Kitayama, but the area around Kinkaku-ji is sometimes referred to as Hokuzan, an alternative pronunciation of the characters used to write Kitayama. 

This name can be traced back to the Heian period (794-1185), and at that time was used to distinguish the larger area (Kitayama) extending north into Kyoto Prefecture from the smaller (Hokuzan) area close to Kinkaku-ji. 

From the mid-Heian period, many burial sites were located here, and there are still numerous tombs — among them that of Emperor En'yû (r. 969-84) — crematories, graves, and burial mounds in the vicinity. Today the area to the west of Kinkaku-ji is known as Himuro ("ice chamber"), a name thought to derive from the ice chambers that the imperial court operated there. In winter, ice was cut into blocks and stored in chambers excavated in the deep recesses of Hidari Daimonjiyama and other mountains in the area, where it could be preserved for use in warm weather. 

In the past, the area was also regarded as a rich hunting grounds and a desirable locale for temples. The site of Kinkaku-ji, however, seems to have been primarily rice paddies and farmland, and was passed from its owner, the head of the Office of Shinto Worship, to Saionji Kintsune (1171-1244). Saionji built the first structures on the site, the Saion-ji family temple and a villa known as Kitayamadai.


1 Kinkakuji-cho, Kyoto, 26 603-8361 Japan.
Tel: +81 (0)75 461 0013

By Bus
Kinkaku-ji is best reached by bus. There are 2 stops at proximity, Kinkakuji-mae and Kinkakuji-michi, deserved by bus 12, 50, 59, 204 and 205).

The temple is open everyday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.


More information at Asian Historical Architecture