Kinkanku-ji (金閣寺) : Temple of the Golden Pavilion

If you make to Japan, you have to make sure you have time to see Kyoto. Once you make it to Kyoto, get over to the Kinkanku-ji.

My photo of the Kinkanku-ju circa 2008
My photo of the Kinkanku-ju circa 2008

“Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺, lit. “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), officially named Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺, lit. “Deer Garden Temple”), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The garden complex is an excellent example of Muromachi period garden design. The Muromachi period is considered to be a classical age of Japanese garden design. The correlation between buildings and its settings were greatly emphasized during this period. It was a way to integrate the structure within the landscape in an artistic way. The garden designs were characterized by a reduction in scale, a more central purpose, and a distinct setting.A minimalistic approach was brought to the garden design, by recreating larger landscapes in a smaller scale around a structure.” – Wikipedia

Another angle, a little closer.
Another angle, a little closer.

“The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa calledKitayama-dai, belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Kinkaku-ji’s history dates to 1397, when the villa was purchased from the Saionjis by ShogunAshikaga 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, the pavilion was burned down by a 22-year-old novice monk, 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 illnesses (persecution complex and schizophrenia) on September 29, 1955; he died oftuberculosis 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.

From where I was standing (with all the other tourist) this the best angle I could get of the ornament on top. Don't remember if it's a Rooster or Phoenix.
From where I was standing (with all the other tourist) this the best angle I could get of the ornament on top. Don’t remember if it’s a Rooster or Phoenix.

The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt. The pavilion is three stories high, approximately 12.5 meters in height. The reconstruction is said to be a copy close to 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 (0.5 µm instead of 0.1 µm), 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 name Kinkaku is derived from the gold leaf that the pavilion is covered in. Gold was an important addition the pavilion because of its underlying meaning. The gold employed was to mitigate and purify any pollution or negative thoughts and feelings towards death.

Other than the symbolic meaning behind the gold leaf, the Muromachi period heavily relied on visual excesses. With the focus on the Golden Pavilion, how the structure is mainly covered in that material, creates an impression that stands out because of the sunlight reflecting and the effect the reflection creates on the pond.” – Wikipedia

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Author: hikikomori78

American Hikikomori is an upcoming short film that explores the emotional struggles of a Japanese teenager named Isamu Fujihara, when he moves to America.

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