There’s no doubt that ‘the Golden Pavilion’ is instantly recognizable. Considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Japan, Kinkaku-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site and an incredibly popular attraction. As in, the kind where you need to arrive early to avoid the worst of the crowds.

In its past life Kinkaku-ji was a villa. Then in 1397 a shogun bought the villa and converted it to the complex you see today. Kinkaku-ji was destroyed by fire in 1950, when a novice monk set it ablaze and then tried to commit suicide. Although the monk survived, his mother threw herself in front of a train in shame. Thankfully, Kinkaku-ji was carefully restored, and maintained its original look.

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