The Silver Pavilion is Missing its Silver

The Silver Pavilion quietly rests on a pond surrounded by lush gardens

At the top of the Philospher’s Path in Kyoto is the Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji Temple.) We took the #5 bus from our little machiya (townhouse) to get up to the pavilion and then work our way south through Gion. I had grand plans of stopping by the zoo on our way down so Dek could have a little animal fun. We would also roam every temple along the way.

It’s beginning to be a bit redundant when I admit that most of my plans usually go awry. We simply run out of time to do all the things my brain wishes it could do. A girl can still dream though.

Prayer sticks are for sale to leave a message behind

The day could not have been more perfect. Blue skies as far as the eye could see. We would finally get a chance to wander Gion without thunderclouds looming overhead.

I was happy we only had a light umbrella stroller with us. The Silver Pavilion, like so many other sights in Kyoto, proved to not be stroller friendly. Dek enjoyed climbing up the pathways leading through the garden. We could not enter the actual pavilion. We were simply able to admire it from different vantage points.

The pavilion was originally built in the 15th century as a tribute to Shogun Yoshimasa’s grandfather, who constructed the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji.) Yoshimasa wanted to cover his pavilion in silver, but a war prevented this final touch.* The wooden structure still held its own though.

Checking out the moss-covered wonders of Ginkakuji Temple

A lush garden and woodlands surrounded the pavilion, which was set on a small pond. In the center of the garden was a cone made of white sand. Next to it was a bunch of white sand that had been raked into perfect lines. These white sand elements were meant to reflect the moon. I have no patience for this kind of gardening in my own home (not to mention the rain would wash it away pretty quick), but it sure was pretty to look at.

White sand glows in the moon light as well as the sun

Happy school children rushed around us as we made our way slowly through the grounds. It took much longer than I had anticipated, but we were having fun. So we might not make it to the zoo. Dek was just as happy pointing at a stream and moss-covered rocks.

Dek hams it up while a group of students dressed as geisha get ready for a group photo

I finally came to terms with the fact that my post-it notes full of plans were pretty much going by the wayside. Thankfully, my main planning for this trip only included one major sight a day. Anything else we got to see was just an added bonus to an already amazing experience.

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* Source: The Rough Guide Japan, 5th Edition (Feb. 2011)

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8 comments

  1. Looks like a peaceful place and fun for the little one to run around.

  2. Aw thanks! Just wait till I get to the Golden Pavilion post. That will give you a much better idea of what the place would have looked like. It’s kind of blinding.

  3. We only touched the very bottom of the philosopher’s path at the Nanzen-Ji Temple so I’m happy (and a little jealous) to see this. I wish we’d had more time to walk the path but the weather was poor. I just put up that post today and was lamenting that very thing. Looking forward to seeing where else you walked.

    • It’s funny, because I was lamenting on the fact that you got more time at places we hit later in the day. You know this means we just have to go back and do things backwards so we can see everything we missed, right?

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