Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji

“Kinkaku-ji: not wabi-sabi. Ginkaku-ji: wabi-sabi.” -Wise Japanese man


Kinkaku-ji “Golden Pavilion” is something of a marvel; three distinct styles of architecture on as many floors, covered in brilliant golf-leaf, and gleaming in the highly reflective pond-garden on which it is set.

Something so stunning that I would be remiss to not have visited. Something which captured my imagination, and drew me to the country.


But after my visit I just felt like I had checked off a box. Little about the grounds or the experience are memorable, save for the fact that Kinkaku-ji is covered in gold, and the pond produces a perfect reflection from the designated postcard-generating photography area.



When I left the site I had a chance conversation with an elderly gentleman. He informed me “Kinkaku-ji: not wabi-sabi. Ginkaku-ji: wabi-sabi.”


Something of a little brother to Kinkaku-ji, the “Silver Pavilion” Ginkaku-ji was built by the grandson of Kinkaku-ji’s Shogun founder.

But true to the old man’s word, I was taken aback by the beauty of the Ginkaku-ji: it’s grounds, Kannon Hall, the sand garden, the sand Mount Fuji.. there’s such harmony, and rawness.




Here, the symbolic Fujisan’s peak is obfuscated, as it so often is by cloud.


Nothing at Ginkaku-ji is quite perfect or finished, but the care for detail is astounding.




Wabi-sabi isn’t easy.

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