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    Kinkakuji is the most famous Buddhist temple in Kyoto and probably Japan. Also known as the Golden Pavilion, it is literally covered in gold leaf and is surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens. Kinkakuji is designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and a UNESCO World Heritage Site forming part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)” listing.

    Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

    Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

    The name Golden Pavilion comes from the Japanese term Kinkakuji, which literally means the temple of the Golden Pavilion (金閣寺), however the formal name of the temple complex in which the Golden Pavilion is found is Rokuonji (鹿苑寺 Deer Garden Temple).

    Rokuonji Kinkakuji History

    In the 1220’s Kinkakuji was the comfortable villa of Kintsune Saionji. Yoshimitsu, the 3rd Shogun of Ashikaga, abdicated the throne in 1394. After three years, he began to build Kitayamaden and he made a special effort to make it a breath-taking site. He indulged in his peaceful life in this serene setting. After Yoshimitsu’s death, Kitayamaden was made into a Zen temple in accordance with his will. All the buildings of those days came to ruin except Kinkakuji. The garden, however, remains as it was in former days and can be enjoyed as it was hundreds of years ago. Kinkakuji Temple was inscribed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1994.

    Fishing Deck at rear of Kinkaku-ji Kyoto

    Fishing Deck at rear of Kinkaku-ji Kyoto

    Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion Building Design

    Kinkakuji formally known as Shariden is an elegant, harmonious building consists of three types of architecture. The 1st floor is Shinden-zukuri, the palace style. It is named Ho-sui-in. The 2nd floor is Buke-zukuri, the style of the samurai house and is called Cho-on-do. The 3rd floor is Karayo style or Zen temple style. It is called Kukkyo-cho.

    Both the 2nd and 3rd floors are covered with gold-leaf on Japanese lacquer. The roof, upon which the Chinese phoenix settles, is thatched with shingles.

    Recently, 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 ones, was given to the building and was completed in 1987. Furthermore, the beautiful painting on the ceiling and the statue of Yoshimitsu were restored, with utmost care, to their original splendor.

    Kinkakuji Gardens

    Rikushu-no-matsu Ship Pine

    The Rikushu-no-matsu Ship Pine Tree is one of three famous pine trees in Kyoto. Unfortunately the pine has been allowed to grow out at the time this picture was taken, however the ship design can still be seen with the main trunk representing the mast and the bow being the branches growing on the lattice at the front. The four grouped or flattened sets of branches coming off the trunk represent the sections of sail as they appeared in old sailing ships. The Rikushu-no-matsu Ship Pine was originally a bonsai trained in the same, which was owned by the Shogun, Ashikaga. Ashikaga was a major patron of Kinkakuji. After his death the bonsai was planted in the temple ground around the 1300s, making the Rikushu-no-matsu Ship Pine over 650 years old.

    Rikushu-no-matsu Ship Pine Tree in front of Hojo (Head priest's living quarter) Kinkaku-ji Kyoto

    Rikushu-no-matsu Ship Pine Tree in front of Hojo (Head priest’s living quarter) Kinkaku-ji Kyoto

    Hakuja-zuka (mound in memory of the white snake) Stone Pagoda in the Anmin-taku pond Kinkaku-ji

    Hakuja-zuka (mound in memory of the white snake) Stone Pagoda in the Anmin-taku pond Kinkaku-ji

    Fudodo Hall

    Fudodo Hall Kinkaku-ji Kyoto

    Fudodo Hall Kinkaku-ji Kyoto

    On the way to the exit of the temple complex, you will find the small Fudodo shrine where the stone Fudo-myoc (Acara) is enshrined as a guardian.

    Interior view of Fudo Hall, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

    Interior view of Fudodo Hall, Kinkakuji

    Sekka-tei Tea House

    The Sekka-tei Tea House was restored in 1997. The Sekka-tei Tea House features the much celebrated pillar made of nandin.

    Sekka-tei Tea House Kinkaku-ji Temple Kyoto

    Sekka-tei Tea House Kinkaku-ji

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    1 Review on “Kinkakuji”

    1. Profile photo of MinaMina Kinkakuji
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      This is a Japanese beauty. Perfect match of the amazing architecture and the beautiful garden with a pond mirroring the beautiful Golden Pavilion. Just amazing.

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