The Golden Pavilion - Kinkakuji

Properly called Rokuonji, the temple of the deer park, Kinkakuji was built in 1398 by Shogun Ashikaga, and served as a flourishing centre of the arts before becoming a Rinzai Zen temple in 1419.

Though the gardens are superb, featuring a large pond with islands representing the landscape of the Buddhist creation myth, it is the Golden Pavilion itself that people come to see: gold plated and startling against the backdrop of trees. The pavilion, reflecting in the mirror lake, is justifiably one of the best known images of Japan, though the building itself is a recent though faithful reproduction of the 15th century original. Appearances aside, the Kinkakuji is an important Zen site, and the temple houses priceless Buddhist relics in its gold-plated pavilion.