Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavillion temple) may be one of the most popular images of Japan.
Actually, it's formal name is Rokuonji. This temple was built at the end of the 14th century as a shogunate villa, and was eventually converted into a temple of the Zen Buddhism sect.
The temple has a long history where it has been burned down many times in war and also in one case of Arson. The temple was fully restored by 1955, and by 1987, all of the gold leaf that makes the temple so beautiful was replaced.
The temple sits at the center of a pond called Kyoko-chi. The garden that surrounds includes many islands and usually shaped rocks and stones. The islands themselves are also different shapes depending on where and what angle they have seen from, and the reflection of the golden temple on the water of the pond is the most stunning view of all.
About visiting the Golden Pavillion: This temple is most easily accessed by a bus from Kyoto Station to Kinkakuji-michi. It can be crowded during weekends and holidays, so if you are traveling during those times, it may be best to allow some times to wait for the bus. Early mornings and right before closing time are the best times to visit.