Going to Kinkaku-ji recently in late autumn was a feast for the eyes. Although the momiji season was running at its end, there was still beauty in the landscape. After arriving at the parking grounds (huge) we followed the many visitors towards the temple. We entered a walkway bordered of with trees and on our left was a wooden construction with a large bronze gong hanging from its roof. After receiving our entrance tickets we followed along a path that was encircled by a more than 2 meter tall hedge. We turned a few corners and there it was…”The Golden Pavillion” in all of its splendor. It was impressive to say the least, surrounded by the water of the pond, people everywhere, trying to take their picture with the temple behind them. When going there, one has to be prepared to cope with the multitude of fellow tourist, local as well as from all corners of the globe. Visitors from China and Taiwan, to name a bare few, are popular in the temple.
As you walk along the pond, one enters the beautiful gardens and can explore all the picturesque corners of this park. There are many photo opportunities and it is a very nice place to just sit and relax. Walking along you’ll see the Fudo-do on your way to the exit. There are some souvenir shops where one can get something to take back home. The exit leads down a relatively steep walk way of about a hundred meters…and you are back in the parking lot. There are so many things to take in, that it will take some time to digest it all, look at the pictures and re-live those unforgettable moments!
Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), also known as Rokuon-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.The garden complex is an excellent example of Muromachi period garden design. It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, and it is one of 17 World Cultural Heritage sites in Kyoto. It is also one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting a large number of visitors annually.
The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai, belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Kinkaku-ji’s history dates to 1397, when the villa was purchased from the Saionjis by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and transformed into the Kinkaku-ji complex. When Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son, according to his wishes.
During the Onin war, all of the buildings in the complex aside from the pavilion were burned down. On July 2, 1950, at 2:30 am, it was burned down by a monk named Hayashi Yoken, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. He survived, and was subsequently taken into custody. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released because of mental illness on September 29, 1955; he died of other illnesses shortly after in 1956. During the fire, the original statue of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was lost to the flames (now restored). A fictionalized version of these events is at the center of Yukio Mishima’s 1956 book The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt. The reconstruction is said to be an exact copy of the original, although some doubt such an extensive gold-leaf coating was used on the original structure.In 1984, the coating of Japanese lacquer was found a little decayed, and a new coating as well as gilding with gold-leaf, much thicker than the original coatings (5/10,000mm instead of 1/10,000mm), was completed in 1987. Additionally, the interior of the building, including the paintings and Yoshimitsu’s statue, were also restored. Finally, the roof was restored in 2003.
The Golden Pavilion is a three-story building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha (Buddha’s Ashes). The building was an important model for Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion Temple), and Shōkoku-ji, which are also located in Kyoto. When these buildings were constructed, Ashikaga Yoshimasa employed the styles used at Kinkaku-ji and even borrowed the names of its second and third floors.
Each floor of the Kinkaku uses a different architectural style. The first floor, called The Chamber of Dharma Waters, is rendered in shinden-zukuri style, reminiscent of the residential style of the 11th century Heian imperial aristocracy. The second floor, called The Tower of Sound Waves, is built in the style of warrior aristocrats, or buke-zukuri. The third floor is built in traditional Chinese cha’an style, also known as zenshu-butsuden-zukuri. The building is topped with a bronze phoenix ornament.
The Golden Pavilion is set in a magnificent Japanese strolling garden (kaiyuushiki teien). The pavilion extends over a pond, called Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond), that reflects the building. A small fishing deck (tsuridono) is attached to the rear of the pavilion building, allowing a small boat to be moored under it. The kinkaku-ji grounds were built according to descriptions of the Western Paradise of the Buddha Amida, intending to illustrate a harmony between heaven and earth. The largest islet in the pond represents the Japanese islands. The four stones forming a straight line in the pond near the pavilion are intended to represent sailboats anchored at night, bound for the Isle of Eternal Life in Chinese mythology.
See all pictures here!