Kyoto Tourist: Kinkaku-ji

Kinkaku-ji is perhaps Kyoto's most well known visitor attraction.  I paid the Golden pavilion a visit over the weekend. A few others had the same idea.  As expected, it was packed.

Remember our friend Yoshimitsu who built Ginkaku-ji, the Silver pavilion?  He is responsible for this more impressive one as well.  It really is covered with gold foil, so if you're a fan of shiny things, this is your place!

Getting to Kinkaku-ji can be a bit of a headache.  It's on the northern edge of Kyoto city with no convenient train stations nearby.  The most inexpensive way to get there is by bus.  There are several that leave from Kyoto Station, and it will only cost you ¥220, but it will take well over an hour with traffic.  A taxi from Kyoto Station is faster, but is going to run upwards of ¥2000- ¥3000, a bit steep really.  Or, you can do what I did.  Take the subway Karasuma line to Kitaoji station (¥250) then grab a taxi from there.  It's less than 10 minutes, and will cost around ¥1000.  I would call that a compromise.

Entrance to the temple complex is ¥400 for adults and ¥300 for children.  Like Ginkaku-ji, your ticket is a good luck prayer, so hang on to it!

Now, join the river of tourists.  They will guide the way to all the best photo spots.  Here's a fun game to play in Japan - stop and take a picture.  It can be of anything, a tree, a garbage can, a random spot of the fence.  I can promise you several people will come up beside you to take the same picture, because obviously you have seen something worth photographing.  It's good for a laugh, give it a try!

The leaves have really started to change in Kyoto.  Some trees were already a brilliant shade of red - so pretty!  I've been keeping my eye on Japan's autumn leaf forcasts to make sure that I am catching places at the right time.

You'll have to really try your patience and put all your zen meditation to good use to get shots like these.  It's shoulder to shoulder people pushing to get the shot, shouting at people to get out of their family portraits, etc., etc.  Just take a deep breath, get your photo, and move on.  It gets better, I promise!

See what I mean??

After a bit of a wander, you can pray, buy some omamori (charms for different kinds of luck) and even get a fortune from one of the bright orange omikuji vending machines.  

Don't worry, you can get an English one if you're worried about reading the Japanese!

Of course there is the obligatory tea house, so if you're up for some matcha, go for it!

Despite Kinkaku-ji's less than convenient location, it is most definitely worth a visit.  It is beautiful in any season, as most places in Japan are.  Be prepared for clueless tourists who will walk into your photos (and into you).  Get into your Walmart mindset as my mom and I like to call it, and just wipe all the people from your mind.  That's what being zen is all about, after all!

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