Kyotos Best Temple for Autumn Colours is…


the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji) – it’s that small temple on the left.

Kyoto Silver Pavilion Zen Garden Autumn Colours

I look forward to new experiences when we travel and the autumn foliage colours of Kyotos Temple gardens were certainly new to us.  This world of colours that changed weekly – daily even – were unknown in our tropical world at home and filled me with wonder.

After visiting ten Kyoto temples over a two week period in early November, we were officially in awe of Japanese garden design. We had left this renowned temple in Northern Higashiyama district, till toward the end of our time in Kyoto and my heart dropped a beat as we joined the hordes of people waiting to enter.  But all of these people couldn’t be wrong…right?  Luckily there were two ticket offices open and the line flowed quickly.

Inside we were greeted by the Silver Sea of sand – my favourite dry sand garden in Kyoto – framed by a kaleidoscope of foliage.  The chopped off conical sand hill, or Moon Viewing Platform, is thought to mimic Mt. Fuji.


Kyoto Silver Pavilion Zen Sand


The path meandered through a moss garden with a still pond perfect for reflections, over bridges, slowly gaining height as the crowds thinned out.


Kyoto Silver Pagoda Moss plus Temple


The day was a mixture of cloud and sun and although not perfect for photography, it was magical in real life.


Kyoto Silver Pagoda Moss Garden


Looking Up revealed stray Maple Leaves nestled in the pines like stars in the night sky.


Kyoto Silver Pavilion Maple Leaves


Japanese Temple Gardens are very manicured but the falling Autumn leaves added an impromptu beauty.


Kyoto Silver Pavilion Gardens Looking Down


Standing as we were on the lower slopes of Daimonji Mountain the skyline of Eastern Kyoto framed the scene nicely.


Kyoto Silver Pavilion Town hills forest


Kyoto Silver Pagoda Pond and building


The pavilion roof was made of thin 30cm long Japanese Cypress shingles of which only 3cm protruded. Attached using bamboo nails I think the weathered Cypress added a definite silver glow.


Kyoto Silver Pagoda City Garden

The Story of Ginkaku-ji

When Ashikaga Yoshimasa began construction in 1482 he envisaged a building covered in Silver Foil.  His grandfather Ashikaga Yoshimitsu covered Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) with Gold Leaf in 1397.  At first Yoshimasa’s building, modelled on this Grandfather’s pavilion, was known as Jisho-ji – the temple of Shining Mercy.  He died before achieving it’s silver transformation and what was meant to be glitzy and ostentatious has instead become known for it’s modest refinement.  It wasn’t until post 1600’s that Jisho-ji became known as Ginkaku-ji or The Silver Pavilion.  


The Golden Pavilion is a little to the north on the other side of town.

Budget Travel Tips

Entrance 500 yen.

Hours 8.30 to 5 Mar/Nov and 9 to 4.30 Dec/Feb.  Arrive ASAP after opening time and from 3pm on to escape the crowds.

Bus 5/17/100 leaves from Kyoto Train Station to the Silver Pavilion. Bus 100 is normally very crowded until after Kiyomizu-dera (temple) Stop in Southern Higashiyama – I cannot vouch for the others.

Cost of bus 230 yen regardless of the length of the ride. Enter through the rear door and feed correct change into the machine near the driver as you exit.

The prices at the on-site gift shop are no more expensive than elsewhere in the city and there are free samples of packaged treats to try before you buy.  I recommend the Wasabi Peanuts.

The street leading uphill toward the Pavilion is lined with souvenir and food stalls.

The atmospheric philosophers walk (2km) links the Pavilion with Nanzen-ji.  I recommend the Philosophers walk but be aware that there are few budget food options along the way, or near Nanzen-ji.

If you love to travel visit Corinne’s Reflections Enroute for Weekend Travel Inspiration.

This week Noel from Travel Photo Discovery is discovering Bologna, Italy for Travel Photo Monday.

This post is linked to Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.

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