Before I left for Japan, I was surprised to hear from friends that they loved Kyoto more than Tokyo. It was unexpected and I could not wait to discover what enamored them so much about this city. My expectations were high. Maybe too high.
Kyoto is an hour and a half away from Osaka on the Japan Rail. I arrived early afternoon and immediately felt the palpable difference between modest cities, like Hiroshima and Osaka, and the bustling city life of Kyoto. The city was denser and dirtier, but the familiar grime paled in comparison to the streets of NYC.
Kinkaku-ji - the golden pavilion
On the other hand, despite the dreary weather, Kinkaku-ji was mesmerizing. The pavilion extended partially over the pond and gave the appearance of it floating on water.
I patiently waited for the drizzle and wind to calm to capture the golden pavilion’s beautiful reflection on still waters. On a sunny day, I imagine it to be really difficult to see the intricacies of this gilded two story pavilion because of how blinding it is.
Interestingly, it was the Kinkaku-ji that inspired the silver pavilion – Ginkaku-ji. If you only had time to see one pavilion, head to Kinkaku-ji. The Ginkaku-ju doesn’t even compare.
Ginkaku-ji - the Silver pavilion
My first stop in Kyoto was, Ginkaku-ji. I was expecting to see a dazzling golden pavilion floating on water, surrounded by harmonious sculptures and colorful fall foliage. Instead, after strolling through a path lined with small tourist shops, I arrived in a small garden filled with glowing autumn leaves and no golden pavilion in sight.
I was baffled. I checked my map a dozen times. I walked back out to the entrance to see the signs. I Googled images of Ginkaku-ji and after I walked away from the pavilion a little peeved that I paid money to see a “regular” pavilion, I realized that Ginkaku-ji (with a G) is the silver pavilion and Kinkaku-ji (with a K) is the golden pavilion! Amateur!
Still, I was not impressed. It may have been the gloomy weather, but the Ginkaku-ji (silver pavilion) did not leave a strong impression on me. I was more captivated by the lush fall foliage surrounding the premise than the structure itself.