It is perhaps the most widely-recognized image of Kyoto: the small, graceful temple whose upper tiers, balconies and eaves are covered in shining gold. Seen reflected in the adjoining mirror pond with its small islands of rock and pine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is a breathtaking must-see.
The building's first purpose was to serve the retiring Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu(1358-1409) as a residence. The gold-leaf-adorned building was converted into a Zen temple shortly after his death. In an event that was later fictionalized by the renowned author Yukio Mishima, a 21-year-old monk burned Kinkakuji down in 1950. The temple was rebuilt in 1955, and continues to function as a storehouse of sacred relics.