Possibly the world's most ostentatious retirement cottage, the magnificent gold-sheathed Kinkaku-ji was built by Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga (1358–1409). He ordered it built in 1393 in anticipation of the time when he would quit politics—the following year, in fact—to manage the affairs of state through the new shogun, his 10-year-old son. On Yoshimitsu's death, his son followed his father's wishes and converted the villa into a temple.
The current temple was reconstructed in the 1950s after a monk set fire to the standing structure. (His internal conflict is the focus of Yukio Mishima's 1956 famous novel Temple of the Golden Pavilion, published the year after construction had finished.) The top two stories are coated with gold leaf, as per Yoshimitsu's original vision, a spectacular sight when reflected in the pond's still waters. To get here, take Bus 12, 59, 101, 102, 204, or 205 to Kinkaku-ji-mae.