It was August when my mother came to visit me in Japan. Obon is a week long holiday honoring people’s ancestors and so many businesses close for the week, my school included. This was the prefect time for my mom to visit! What neither of us expected was the almost intolerable heat and humidity that we would face while sight seeing in the Kansai area. We eventually figured out that we needed to get up extremely early, hit a couple of attractions, go back to our hotel, then go out again at night – this would help us avoid the horrible midday heat. Unfortunately, we did not know this the day we went to Kinkakuji in Kyoto.
Kinkakuji is a famous temple in Kyoto, Japan. When you google Kyoto, often pictures of this amazing temple will appear in the results. It is a zen buddhist temple set a quite a ways away from Kyoto station – so my mom and I found it easier to just take a cab there (especially since it was so hot we wanted to peel our skin off!). The top two floors of the temple are covered in a gold leafing, hence its name ‘Golden Temple’. According to www.japan-guide.com, the building started out as the home of a retired shogun. After he died in 1408, the building was willed to a Zen Buddhism sect and used as a temple.
After walking along the path leading to a viewing spot across a pond from Kinkakuji, the temple came into view. It was breathtaking. People were lined up to take photos with this amazingly beautiful temple. It was impossible to take a bad picture! The temple is set against a backdrop of trees and is reflected in the pond it is seated in front of. The heat was so intense, that it took quite a bit of coaxing for my mom to come out of the shade to pose for a picture, but when she finally did, we got one great shot!
We continued to follow the path to the temple and to our dismay, we could not enter this amazing Golden Pavilion. We were able to observe it from 3 sides, but there was no entry. I was surprised at how small it was – I had assumed that it would be a large temple as so many others I have been to in Japan, but Kinkakuji is relatively small compared to others.
There is a path which winds through the small forest offering views of different gardens and an additional smaller temple. Finally, as with all tourist spots, you end at a souvenir shop, which offered my mom and myself reprieve from the squelching heat.
Kinkakuji is a must if you ever visit Japan. It is definitely a ‘walk-by’ attraction, but its beauty is best viewed in person. As breathtaking as it is in photos, it is even more so in real life.