Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto - The Traveller


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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto


Kinkaku-ji Temple Originally a Villa

Kinkaku-ji, one of the leading temples of Kyoto was built towards the end of the 14th century and was originally a villa for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu who had taken possession of a mountain villa of Saionji Temples in 1397. The same had been transformed into a temple of the Zen sect of Buddhism, popular for the practice of zazen or religious mediation, after the death of Yoshimitsu.

Its official name is Rokuon-ji and is famous both in Japan as well as abroad as a symbol of Kitayama culture. The Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku was built as the Shariden, covered in gold, the image of the pavilion that stands at the edge of Kyokochi pond is reflected in the water.

The temple was burnt down several times in the flames of war as well as other infernos the more recent being by arson, which was made famous by the novel of Yukio Mishima – Kinkakuji. – The Temple of the golden Pavilion. However in 1955, it was restored and in1987, major repair work had been carried out which has enhanced its brilliance still further. Kinkaku-ji is one of the historical buildings representatives of Japan and has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage.

The Chamber of Dharma Water

Every floor of the Kinkaku-ji is built in different style where the first floor known as `the Chamber of Dharma Water’ is motivated by the Heian mansions of the 11th century and is often described as the Shinden style. It is only a large room which is surrounded by a veranda which sits below the more enormous second storey and is distanced from the interior by reticulated shutters known as Shitomido.

 The Shitomido tends to reach just halfway to the ceiling enabling sufficient light as well as air inside.The second floor known as the Tower of Sound Waves is the Samurai house style and was intended as a Buddha hall and encloses an econ of the Bodhisattva Kannon while the third floor was built in the Zen style with cusped windows and ornamentation. It aptly houses an Amida triad with twenty-five Bodhisattvas and a Chinese phoenix crowns the eaves.

The Golden Pavilion

The heart of the complex of the temple is the Golden Pavilion placed picturesquely in its garden towards the edge of a lake. The garden was created with the intention of providing a view of various scenes while strolling around a large pond known as Kyoko-chi, placed at its centre within a stretch of about 93,000 of the 132,000 square meter temple grounds and the pond itself occupies about 60,000 square meters which includes islands of different sizes like the Naka-jima and Iwa-jima.

This layout is characteristic of the Shinden style of the Heian period and is projected to suggest a position between heaven and earth. Rocks and stones of rare shapes are also found here. All these islands tend to have various shapes based on the angle from which they are observed and the scene perceived from the Sekka-tei Cottage towards the back of the hill seems to be especially inspiring while the reflection of the golden pavilion on the water is also very appealing.

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