As you might guess by its name, this is possibly the most gorgeous temple in Japan.
Kinkakuji Temple is officially called Rokuon Temple, but since the sacred hall is covered in gold, it is usually referred to Kinkaku (Kin means gold and Kaku means building). This was once a villa of an aristocrat who gave it to a general called Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (in Japan first name comes second), who renovated the entire thing which was outdated and ruined at the time. As well as the golden pavilion, the gardens were also built at Yoshimitsu’s request, and you can still appreciate its beauty. Yoshimitsu lived here until he died (he was 51 years old), and after his death, his son, Yoshimotsu invited Musou Kokushi, a Rinzai Sect zen monk, and started calling this villa Rokuon Temple. As I mentioned, there are things to see other than Kinkaku itself, such as the garden. It will take 30 minutes or more to see everything. However, the main attraction is definitely Kinkaku. Unfortunately you can’t go inside the temple.
Access: Kinkakuji Temple is located right in front of the city bus station called Kinkaku Ji Michi. Also as I explain in the model course section, I recommend you walk to Kinkaku from Kitano Tenmagu Shrine.
You can find much more useful and complete information in my Kyoto Guidebook which is now available on Amazon sites. Click here to buy the Kyoto Guidebook (ebook) on Amazon.com (You can find the Kyoto Guidebook on your local Amazon site).