金閣寺 – The Golden Pavilion

On our second day in Kyoto, my friend and I decided to rent bikes near the station for 1000 yen (less than $10) and go exploring around the mountainside.  It was extremely peaceful biking around the rural neighborhoods, and we saw a lot of miniature shrines along the way to Kinkaku-ju (the Golden Pavilion).  Arriving at the entrance of one of Japan’s most prized temples was breathtaking.  Its gold architecture shined with a beautiful contrast to the autumn leaves that were gradually turning red with the season.  We got there around golden hour (5:00), so the lighting was absolutely perfect for photos!

Kinkaju-ji was originally a villa belonging to a powerful statesman, but was later transformed into a Buddhist temple by his son.  Despite being burned down by a monk, the temple was rebuilt and still shines proudly today.  The gold lacquer is thought to dispel and purify pollution and negative thoughts.  Its reflection also stands out vibrantly in the nearby pond.  Being in its presence definitely put my mind at ease.  I hope to visit many more places like this in my travels across Japan!

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