As retirement villages go, this one is a gem. It was constructed in the 1390s as the retirement home of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and converted into a Zen temple after his death. It’s one of Kyoto’s most photographed sights due to being adorned completely in gold leaf, so bright you almost need sunglasses if viewing it on a clear day (the best time is in late afternoon), when it shimmers against a blue sky and is reflected in a pond. Surrounding the temple is a park with moss-covered grounds and teahouses.
This isn’t the original pavilion, however. A disturbed 21-year-old monk burned it to the ground in 1950, later fictionalized in the novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima. Since Ryoanji Temple is nearby, most visitors combine both in a visit to this part of the city.
Bus: 12 or 59 to Kinkakuji-mae.