Official name 鹿苑寺Rokuon-ji Temple, 金閣寺Kinkaku-ji Temple, known as “the Golden Pavillion Temple” in English, is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto where exemplary garden design representative of the 室町時代Muromachi Period can be experienced. The temple boasts being one of the 17 ユネスコの世界遺産「古都京都の文化財」”Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto” UNESCO World Heritage Site, a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape…no wonder it is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kyoto as well as Japan.
The site of the temple was originally that of 北山第Kitayama-dai, the villa of 西園寺公経Kintsune Saionji, until 1397 when purchased by 将軍足利義満Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga; it was further turned into a Zen temple after his death according to his wishes. Unfortunately, all the buildings on site are not the original: all the buildings except the pavilion were burned down during the 応仁の乱Onin War and in 1950, a young monk burned down the pavilion (the current pavilion goes back to 1955 when it was rebuilt). Apparently, it wasn’t always covered in gold but the current gold is supposed to purify any pollution or negative thoughts/feelings, especially toward death.
I didn’t get to see the golden pavilion, the most famous point of the temple, when I visited in the early 2000’s (when the roof was being restored) and being in the 北区north ward of Kyoto, I didn’t feel it to be easily accessible. However, in late March 2008 when Shane came down with fellow 群馬Gunma JETs, Diana and Joyce and Mr. Man and I took them around Kyoto, I finally got to see the golden pavilion.
the three-storied golden pavilion (each floor represents a different style of architecture) reflected in the 鏡湖池 Kyoukochi (“Mirror Pond”)
the golden pavilion from the side…
and the back