Fodor's Expert Review Ginkaku-ji
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion was intended to impress the courtly world with its opulence, but the current structure is an exercise in elegance and restraint. Yoshimasa Ashikaga spent years constructing his retirement villa in a conspicuous homage to his grandfather's Golden Pavilion on the west side of town. The shogun wanted the large hall here to be wrapped in silver leaf, but during construction in the 1470s a tumultuous war and government unrest left the clan bereft of funds. Today an elaborate entryway of stone, bamboo, and hedge lead into a modest compound of buildings giving way to extensive gardens. The Silver Pavilion, which stares down at its reflection in the water, sits among the rolling moss-covered hillsides, dark pools, and an enormous dry garden, called the Sea of Sand.