Kyoto November 2014 Part 4 – Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji Temple

On my first whole day in Kyoto, I decided to take the bus from Kyoto Station to Kinkaku-ji / 金閣寺 / Golden Pavilion.

My past two times in Kinkaku-ji were both during (late) spring, so I figured I should check it out again during the peak of autumn. IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. If anything, it looks a thousand times prettier in autumn! I was so surprised at the difference even if it’s the same place, and it only proves that I should visit again when it’s snowing, because I’m sure to have a totally new experience.

What a great way to start my Kyoto tour!


What the entrance looks like. My heart was starting to race by the mere sight of orange leaves.


A couple that I recognized from the bus I took. A lot of people make Kinkaku-ji their first stop in Kyoto, so maybe the crowds become more manageable in the afternoon. Just maybe!

Or should I just chalk it up to usual peak season crowd? I guess I went to Kyoto during the most ideal time!


And I started to see why…


I haven’t even reached anything yet, and it already looked this beautiful.



It was one of those moments when I just had to thank Mother Nature. I wouldn’t mind taking pictures of autumn leaves the whole day.


This man would agree with me.


The first thing I did when I entered the Kinkaku-ji premises was take a selfie (with my small camera). Before I forget that I was actually there, lol. The only thing I hate about traveling alone is a lot of missed #OOTD moments! Oh well!

(P.S. My wonderful scarf is from Kate-Katy!)


Kinkaku-ji became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. There are actually a TON of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto. So many that they had to create a separate list called Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.

Among the list are Kamigamo Jinja, Shimogamo Jinja, To-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Enryaku-ji, Daigo-ji, Ninna-ji, Byodo-in, Ujigami Jinja, Kozan-ji, Koke-dera, Tenryu-ji, Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Nishi Hongan-ji, and Nijo-jo.

That’s a total of 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Just in Kyoto. If we count everything in Japan, it would take us until tomorrow. I’ve only been to about 5-6 out of 17… and I’ve been to Kyoto 3 times already. Time is never enough!


Spotted a lot of cute couples wearing the fluffiest-looking scarves!


What the entrance ticket looked like. Admission was ¥400!


Is this real life, or is this just fantasy?


When in Kinkaku-ji, you can’t not catch its crystal clear reflection on the pond.

I can’t deal with this blinding beauty. This was the moment when I realized that I’m so lucky to be able to see this with my own eyes! Photos will never do this place justice. Never!


A quick background on Kinkaku-ji: It is a Zen temple with two floors completely covered in gold leaf. It was formerly a retirement villa for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu until his death in 1408.  Yes, this has been around for more than 600 years. Amazing!



Wouldn’t hurt to toss a coin at these statues for luck!


On the way out, there’s a tea garden where you can have a warm cup of matcha (Kyoto’s specialty). NOM. When in Kyoto, have matcha everyday!


There’s also Fudo Hall, a small Buddhist temple dedicated to Fudo Myoo, one of the Five Wisdom Kings. Inside is a statue carved by Kobo Daishi, another prominent figure in Japanese history.


Prayer candles for different wishes – schoolwork accomplishment, one’s heart’s desire, a gift of marriage, etc.


More ema or wooden wishing plaques!


After spending time at Kinkaku-ji, I followed my Japanese friend’s recommendation, and decided to walk to Ryoan-ji. According to her, it’s right beside Kinkaku-ji.

I should’ve taken the bus. I walked for 30 minutes in an unknown area, lol. Good thing I had pocket-wifi from the airport so I could properly use my Google Maps.


No rush when traveling alone, so I had some BOSS because I was the boss of my trip, lololol but really, I love this stuff so much!


Spotted a photo studio where girls (and kids) can dress up in kimono or yukata.


Either I should’ve taken the bus, or I should really learn how to bike.


When I reached Ryoan-ji, it was already lunch time!


So I had matcha soba and tempura to gain back some of my lost energy. I usually just have an onigiri for breakfast when I’m in Japan so I’ll be forced to try out restaurants (and not resort to convenience store food again) for lunch and dinner. I still end up eating a lot of fast food when I’m alone though!


After my meal, I was greeted by this view. Well, hello there.


Flaming hot momiji. Love the red and orange together.


Because Japanese kids have the cutest fashion.


Nature everywhere. I’m partial to modern cities, but Kyoto is really an exception.



Just before reaching the temple, I saw this mock-up of Ryoan-ji’s famous rock garden.


The actual garden is quite wide so it’s hard to take a proper photo of it unless you have a super wide-angle lens.


This was the best I could do.


Why is this rock garden so famous that it had to be considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you ask?

It is considered the finest surviving example of karesansui, or “dry landscape” garden. The friend who recommended this place to me loves it for the mystery surrounding its meaning and purpose, which until now, is still very much unknown.

In this garden are 15 rocks that are laid out in small groups. What makes it special is that from any vantage point, at least one of the rocks is always hidden from the viewer. Some people have claimed that there’s a way to see all 15 rocks at the same time… but where’s the fun in that?


Once I finished meditating and reflecting on the meaning of life (another advantage of traveling alone is never having to wait for anyone but yourself) in the rock garden, I checked out the surrounding gardens.



Not much to see now, but they say it looks breathtaking during winter.


This scene looks straight from an anime! Also, the group of girls on the right all had the same style…!



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