Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan
Ranked #6 in Japan Tourism
In the north of Kyoto, Japan, an amazing proof of once rich and aristocratic culture is situated. Kinkakuji (also called Golden Pavilion) is a Zen temple in 3 floors, top two of them are covered in golden leafs. The garden complex gives an outstanding example of Muramachi period garden design. Acknowledged as a World Heritage site, the temple is one of the most popular buildings in Kyoto and Japan in general.
Temple of the Golden Pavilion
At the very beginning (in 1397) it was built as a retirement house for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, but as he passed away, the building became a Zen temple of Rinzai sect. Originally, there were several buildings in the retirement complex, but due to numerous fires (during Onin war, Civil War and even once in the 1950ties) the Golden Pavilion is the only one left. However, it had been damaged so badly, that today we mostly see result of its reconstruction in 1955.
Yoshimitsu lived in a century when aristocratic culture bloomed in Japan; therefore, each floor of the temple is presented in different style.
First floor is designed in Shinden style which was typical in Heian Period. White plasters and wooden pillars make a good contrast with upper storeys. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to enter the temple. However, the inside premises are visible from the across the pond and if the window is left open, some of the statues of Buddha and Yoshimitsu situated inside can be viewed. The Second floor represents Bukke style that was characteristic to samurai residences but the third floor is designed in Chinese Zen Hall style. Unfortunately, the statues in these floors are not visible to tourists.
Some other popular sites in Kinakuji are former premises of the head priest (hojo) with its painted sliding doors (fusuma), the temple’s garden and the Sekkekai Teahouse which is the last site before the exit of the Golden Pavilion. Outside the exit among several souvenir shops you will find also a small tea garden and a small temple hall.
Although a lot of objects in the Golden Pavillion are not to be seen by visitors, it is still a must-see object in Kyoto. Kinakuji is open to tourists every day from 9:00 till 17:00.