The Kinkakuji Temple is a zen temple, also known as The Golden Pavilion, in north-western Kyoto. Notably, it is one of the most valuable and priceless temples in Japan. It is an iconic landmark in Kyoto drawing a large number of visitors every year.
Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 03 JAN 2020
As Japan’s former capital Kyoto has a rich history and an exceptional number of well-preserved historic temples and shrines. Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto is one of these temples which has obtained status as a World Heritage Site. Not many visitors come to Kyoto without getting a glimpse of the sublimely beautiful Kinkakuji Temple, or to English speaking foreigners The Golden Pavilion.
Kinkakuji Temple – The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto
Kinkakuji Temple is an outstanding, gold-plated pavilion, scenically located in the Kitayama district at a tiny mirror lake with small islands and pine trees as the setting. Still mirror images of the trees reflected in the water picturesquely surround The Golden Pavilion. The small pond, the Kyokochi Pond was once filled with lotus plants. Due to its scenic location and its golden appearance, this is unquestionably one of the most famous temples in the entire country.
Originally, in 1397, it was built as a retirement pavilion for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408). Ashikaga Yoshimitsu acquired the land around the lake from the statesman Saionji Kintsune. After the shogun’s death in 1408 the temple was eventually converted into a Rinzai Zen Buddhist temple in accordance with the shogun’s wishes. Later, the temple was renamed Rokuonji after the shogun’s religious title.
Kinkakuji Temple – The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is a true masterpiece.
The pavilion is an intriguing mix of three architectural styles. The ground floor is constructed in the architectural style of the Heian period (794-1185). This floor features a veranda and a fishing deck. The middle floor is laid out in the samurai style and has the Buddha Hall with a shrine dedicated to Kannon, as well as painted walls and ceilings decorated with birds. The top floor is designed in the Zen architectural style. Most famed is the temple probably for its sumptuous golden look. The exterior of the two upper floors of the picture-postcard temple are lavishly covered in gold-leaf, and so is the interior of the very top floor.
This is infinitely close to pure beauty. The panoramic setting is like an embellished naturalist painting and a true masterpiece of Japanese architecture.
Kinkakuji Temple has been subject to both fires and wars (the Onin War 1467-1477). The pavilion has burnt down several times throughout history and has miraculously been as splendidly and luxuriously rebuilt every time afterwards, latest in 1950 when it was set on fire by a monk.
Kinkakuji Temple gave in the 15th century with its uniqueness inspiration to the construction of another imposing temple, namely the Ginkakuji Temple (The Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto.
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