As Kyōto's most iconic landmark, Kinkaku-Ji (literally the "Temple of the Golden Pavillion"), is undoubtedly astonishing. Built in 1397, the complex was the retirement villa of the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Soon after his death in 1408, the structure was converted into a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect by his son. Engulfed in flames several times throughout the ages, the current complex was rebuilt true to the original in 1955 (except for the top two floors that were both covered in gold leaf). Thousands of sightseers pack the site to glance at the breathtaking Gold Temple, its reflection shimmering in the serene pond in a picturesque setting. It's best to go early in the morning or just before closing to avoid queuing in notoriously slow-moving lines.