Kinkaku-ji Temple is an essential sightseeing spot in Kyoto. The unique golden pavilion is a World Heritage Site and a must-visit spot with or without children. However, some people may be worried, “Is there anything other than seeing the golden pavilion?” There are other things that you can enjoy with your children, so if you are thinking about visiting Kinkaku-ji Temple, please take a look at this article.
About Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto
Kinkaku-ji Temple is famous as a tourist spot in Kyoto. The name “Kinkaku-ji”, which the Japanese are accustomed to, is its common name, but the official name is “Rokuon-ji”. The golden Shari-den (reliquary hall) is so famous that it is called Kinkaku (golden pavilion) –ji (temple).
Kinkaku-ji, a cultural property of the ancient city of Kyoto, was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1994. It is an attraction that many domestic and international tourists visit.
1. Dazzlingly Bright Shari-den
The Shari-den is the symbol of Kinkaku-ji Temple. Many people have the image of Kinkaku-ji = Shari-den. Shari-den has a three-layer structure, and is characterized by different structures.
In fact, this Shari-den was burned down by arson in 1950. The wooden statue of Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, a national treasure, housed inside was destroyed by the fire. It was restored by reconstruction in 1955.
Even in Kyoto where there are many temples, this golden symbol is a special place. It will make any child’s eyes sparkle.
2. Phoenix on the Roof
One bird stands on the roof of the Shari-den at Kinkaku-ji Temple. The bird shines golden like Shari-den. It is an imaginary creature called a phoenix, standing on a golden pedestal, as if overlooking a pond.
Some say that the phoenix may have been reigned over Kinkaku-ji Temple in hopes of peace and prosperity since they are creatures that foretell happy things.
If you and your children see the phoenix shining in gold, happiness may come to you.
3. Bell at the Bell Tower
The bell tower is on the left side of the main gate of Kinkaku-ji Temple. You can ring this bell if you pay only 200 yen! It may be a rare experience for you to ring a temple bell.
It is said that the tone of the bell resounding around is based on the sound of “La”. The sound of the bell that children ring will surely resonate within their heart.
You can get a postcard of Kinkaku-ji Temple in commemoration, so please drop in!
4. Ryumon Taki (Dragon’s Gate Waterfall)
Located in the northeast from Kinkaku (the golden pavilion), a small waterfall appears as you walk along the route.
The carp-shaped stone is placed in the waterhole after a Chinese story that a carp climbs up the waterfall and becomes a dragon. Indeed, it looks like the carp is trying to jump hard, receiving the water from the waterfall.
The meaning of the Chinese story is that, “every effort is important, and every effort is rewarded.” Please come and visit with your children to reward the efforts of something they are working hard on.
5. Rikushu no Matsu (Boat-Shaped Pine)
Rikushu no Matsu (Boat-Shaped Pine), one of the three largest pine trees in Kyoto, is said to have been planted by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, an old Japanese general.
Because it looks like a boat, it is called the ” Rikushu no Matsu”. It was originally a bonsai grown by Yoshimitsu. (Bonsai is a plant that is grown for ornamental purposes.)
Moreover, this pine tree is about 600 years old!
6. Have Japanese Sweets at Fudo-do (Acala Hall)
Fudo-do is located slightly northeast of the center of the grounds. As the name implies, it enshrines Fudo-Myo’o, a god who is a Buddhist religious object.
And when you feel a bit tired of walking, you should stop by the tea room at Fudo-do. At Kinkaku-ji Fudo Kamacha-sho, you can taste matcha and Japanese sweets together.
You can choose your seat between benches outside or tatami mats inside. The green tea and Japanese sweets you can enjoy while viewing the lush garden will warm your heart.
7. Challenge One Character Copying Sutra
There is a place where you can copy one character of sutra near Fudo-do. When you enter the room, the person in charge will guide and explain.
In the flow of one character copying sutra, you first pay 100 yen as a copying fee. Then you write one character of the Buddhist sutra, Hannya Shinkyo, your wish, and your name. But you can’t choose which character you write. This is because you will write the next character after the one written by the previous person.
Please try it with your children and anticipate which character you will get to write!
8. Charms as Souvenirs
At many temples and shrines around Japan you can purchase charms on straps which can symbolize different things like a prayer or be for good luck, or even to repel bad things away. There are various types of charms at Kinkaku-ji Temple, too. There are even some which you won`t be able to find anywhere else.
Here are some of the most popular charms at Kinkaku-ji Temple.
- Feng Shui charms
Rare octagonal charms. These represent Kinkaku-ji Temple and are said to increase the effects of Feng Shui.
- Economic fortune charms
Cute charms with the round shape of a drawstring bag. These are embroidered with the Chinese character “gold” which represents both the golden pavilion and a wish economic fortune.
- Limited picture charms
There are also charms with cute designs at Kinkaku-ji Temple. 26 kinds of pattern charms in all are ready, so it might be fun to look for your or your children’s favorite one.
- Character charms
There is a charm with a picture of Hello Kitty, a character popular all over the world. Even kids who may not have been interested in charms at first may change their mind when they see a character they love.
More to Kinkaku-ji Temple than the Golden Pavilion
Kinkaku-ji Temple is famous for its golden shari-den. However, as you now know, that isn’t all. There are several other things to enjoy at Kinkaku-ji Temple when visiting with children. Plus, it is barrier free meaning you should have no problems if you are going with a small child and have a stroller. Of course, kids can only enjoy so much when it comes to historical places like temples in Kyoto. If you would like to go and really have time to look around and take in the beauty, please consider using Kyoto with Kids Babysitting service or Kyoto with Kids Club where your kids can have fun playing while you take in the beautiful temple grounds.
Kinkaku-ji (Rokuon-ji) Temple Information
Kinkaku-ji Temple, one of Shokoku-ji Temple’s affiliate temples
By bus: No.12, No.59, No.205, No.M1, No.101, No.102, No.111, No.MN205 and get off at “Kinkakuji-michi” Stop.
1 Kinkakuji-cho Kita-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
*Open all year round
*Hours may change for special exhibitions.
075-461-0013 ( Japanese only )