Kyoto, city of thousands of shrine and temples. Having seen the Silver Pavilion the day before, it was time to see Kyoto’s crowning jewel: Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Unlike Ginkaku-ji, which was never actually covered in silver, Kinkaku-ji glimmers in the sunlight and is quite a spectacle to see.
While the main pavilion is the attraction of Ginkaku-ji, one should still spend time wandering around the gardens. From Ginkaku-ji we headed over to the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine which is know for it’s thousands of torii gates that snake through the hillsides up to a sacred shrine at the top of the hill.
Red Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha
It was simply amazing to wonder through the tens of thousands of torii gates at Fushimi Inari-taisha. Quite a work out too – for those attempting to hike to the top it took us a good hour walking at a brisk pace. It was tough – the last mile or so was strictly up stairs. While there is no view at the top, it was still worth it to see all the small sub-shrines and just gawk at the thousands of gates you are walking through. Finally with a little time left we hopped on a train to see the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
Before stopping at the grove we decided to pair our visit with a trip to the Tenryu-ji Temple. Tenryu-ji is ranked first among the city’s five great Zen temples, and is now registered as a world heritage site. Tenryu-ji is the head temple of its own school within the Rinzai Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism.
The gardens are an incredible site to see and are apparently original (unlikes the buildings which have been rebuilt due to fires). The garden features a central pond surrounded by rocks, pine trees and the forested Arashiyama mountains. From the garden we exited and found us among the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove was an amazing sight to see! Standing among the bamboo forrest with the day light filtering through is an experience that’s difficult to grasp with photographs and has to be experienced first had.
Both the forest and Tenryu-ji are a fairly short JR train ride from the Fushimi shrine so those with a JR Pass should have no excuse to visit.
It’s amazing really how many different experiences the temples in Kyoto give you. From glimmering gold, to thousands of red gates, to a forest of bamboo – Kyoto has at least one thing that will touch just about anyone’s heart and soul.