Silver Pavilion - Ginkakuji Temple

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Kyoto | The Silver Pavilion

Kyoto | The Silver Pavilion

Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto was built by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa initially as his retirement villa but was converted to a Zen temple after his death. Ashikaga built Ginkakuji with Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) in mind, which his grandfather built. He intended to paint the temple in silver like its counterpart but he was never able to complete this goal, thus the somewhat misleading name.

The Silver Pavilion has a dark wooden exterior and is two stories. The temple is known for its golden Kannon statue located on the upper floor. Ginkakuji actually consists not only of the pavilion but also the other temple buildings in the vicinity, a moss garden, and a dry sand garden. The moss garden is said to have been designed by the famous landscape artist Soami and the sand garden is known for its intricate design which is believed to symbolize Mt. Fuji.

Although Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, is a major tourist site, Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, is often missed. Knowing this interesting history, be sure to stop by both zen temples your next time in Kyoto.

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