Kinkakuji to Raise Admission Fees in April

Reuters file photo
Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion, in Kyoto

KYOTO (Jiji Press) — Kinkakuji, an iconic temple in the western Japan city of Kyoto, will raise admission fees for the first time in 30 years in April, as it is struggling with higher maintenance costs and a drop in the number of visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temple, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, will raise the admission fee for adults and high school students to ¥500 from ¥400 on April 1.

“It was a tough decision made to protect (the temple) forever,” a Kinkakuji official said of the fee increase. “We have a mission to keep Kinkakuji beautiful for good and want visitors to view (the temple) in good condition,” the official said.

Ryoanji, another Kyoto temple on the UNESCO heritage list, will increase the admission fee for adults by ¥100 to ¥600 on April 1. The temple, known for its rock garden, has been visited by a number of dignitaries including the late British Queen Elizabeth II.

Akiharu Iwata, the 59-year-old manager of the temple, said that the number of visitors started recovering around September last year but that the number of foreign tourists, which had accounted for 60 pct of the total, is still half the level before the pandemic.

“We need a certain amount of revenue to manage and maintain (the temple) forever,” Iwata said, stressing that the fee increase is the “bare minimum.”

In June last year, Nijo-jo Castle, another UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto, raised its adult admission fee from ¥1,030 to ¥1,300. But it has not seen a decrease in the number of visitors.

An official at the Kyoto city government in charge of managing the castle said that the decisions by Kinkakuji and others to raise fees may have been intended “to protect cultural properties.”