Standing among the crowd of tourists at the Golden Temple I overheard comments such as, “This is so cool!” and “I can’t believe it. This is incredibly fantastic!” Indeed it was.
Kinkakuji Temple or Temple of The Golden Pavilion sits surrounded by a beautiful pond making up the center of the garden complex. The upper two levels are covered with gold foil and lacquer, probably one reason tourists cannot access the temple directly but rather can walk around it for viewing. I also overheard a tour guide explaining that the islands constructed in the pond are representative of the islands that make up the archipelago of Japan, and the statesman would stand out on his deck and overlook his mini Japan.
After circling the temple one can stroll through the gardens and stop in the tea garden for a cup of green tea and a tiny accompanying sweet. We sat on a large table-like bench, essentially a large table that sits low similar to a chair’s height, covered in a bright red tablecloth and sitting under a large overhead umbrella. The table-at-chair-level design seems to be common in outdoor eating areas and provides an area large enough to set your belongings on as well as spread out your lunch. The tiny sweet of the tea-and-sweet combo is intended to be eaten first to sweeten the taste buds in preparation for the more bitter green tea; however, I found the green tea to be mildly delightful and could be sipped pleasantly even without a sweet.
The Golden Temple was beautiful; the tea in the garden with a good friend, delightful. The temple admission, around $5.00; the tea with a good friend, priceless.