Kyoto: Falling in Love with Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion

Kyoto, Silver Pavilion

Kyoto: Falling in Love with Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion

Kyoto, GingakuJi

It was a gray and rainy day and I headed to Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, a little disappointed. I had hoped for a sunny and warm day to admire one of the most famous temples of Kyoto and enjoy the gardens, but the sun was not meant to be.

Silver Pavilion, Kyoto

Thankfully the rain gave a rest when I walked along the ‘Philosopher path‘, a pretty walk along the tiny canal leading to the temple, only to restart as I approached the Silver Pavilion. However, it soon became clear that there were a few  benefits from a rainy day.

Kyoto Silver Pavilion Gardens

Under the rain, Ginkakuji Temple was even more fascinating

In a strange way, the atmosphere of Ginkakuji was even more fascinating than it would have been under a bright blue sky, the colors enhanced and an overall air of mysticism.

The regular rhythm of the raindrops was a peaceful background sound, highlighting the blending of architecture with its natural surroundings.

Kyoto, Silver Pavilion

Ginkakuji dates back to 1482 when Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa built a retirement villa whose design followed a wish to emulate Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, erected by his grandfather. Similarly to Kinkakuji, the Pavilion was originally meant to be covered by silver foils but the initial plan was never completed.

Kyoto Silver Temple

The villa became a Zen temple at the Shogun’s death according to his wishes, and despite the later additions Ginkakuji still bears the main signs of Yoshimasa’s original concept and aesthetic, both in the architecture and the gardens.

Moreover, the bare dark wooden structure, instead of the planned silver covering, is a wonderful example of the Japanese exquisite taste and ability to create beauty in simplicity.

kyoto silver pavilion gardens

It may not have the magnificence of the Golden Pavilion, but Ginkakuji is definitely one of the must-sees in Kyoto. Also,  being far less crowded it’s all the most enjoyable and makes easier for the Western visitors to soak at least a little in the atmosphere of serenity the Silver Pavilion was intended for.

Have you been to Kyoto? Which was your favorite temple or shrine?



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  • Jennifer Cena
    Posted at 14:19h, 29 April Reply

    wow! such an amazing place.I am so glad that I have discovered this place through your pictures. Stunning! I must say. Kudos for painting such a splendor for us!

  • David
    Posted at 09:53h, 30 March Reply

    I know what you mean about the rain. When it rains, we always want to stay indoors, but actually, the colors of nature (and especially of Kyoto gardens) are usually more beautiful. I had the same experience in Kodai-ji a few years ago (not mentioning that watching the rain fall from inside the temple was magical).

    And also, I’m sure it was less crowded, I went last week, on a sunny day, and there were way too many people for my taste.

  • MightyTravels
    Posted at 18:07h, 25 March Reply

    Wow – this looks like a landscape painting. Awesome! I’ll be in Kyoto next month. I’ll make sure I hit this one!

  • The Runaway Guide
    Posted at 14:58h, 23 March Reply

    I love Japan in the Fall. Now that I think of it, I love Japan in any season, they’re so distinct. This temple looks incredible and these pictures seem to epitomize the Japanese and their strong connection to nature. Thanks for sharing!

  • Traveling Ted
    Posted at 19:10h, 22 March Reply

    Kyoto sure is a magical place. Thank you for reminding me of this fact.

    • Simon Falvo
      Posted at 12:22h, 01 May Reply

      Oh… It’s always nice bringing back great memories. I happen to feel the same many times when I read about places I visited a long time ago and which I loved.

  • Corinne
    Posted at 10:08h, 21 March Reply

    Simon, I think your photos are stunning. As you say, the rain brings out such rich tones. I love Kyoto…the whole city is gorgeous.

    • Simon Falvo
      Posted at 12:21h, 01 May Reply

      You’re right, Corinne. Kyoto is stunning and like no other place I ever visited before. I knew that the old city was beautiful, but I was not expecting it to be SO amazing. So, from the initial two days I thought I would be spending there, I stayed one week and could have further extended if only my overall time in Japan had been longer.

  • Emma @ Everyday Postcard
    Posted at 14:14h, 20 March Reply

    Great photos, looks like such an enchanting place.

    • Simon Falvo
      Posted at 12:17h, 01 May Reply

      Thank you, Emma. The Silver Temple in Kyoto is certainly one of the must-see in Japan!

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