Bill and Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey  ::


Temple of the Golden Pavilion or Kinkaku-ji (officially named Rokuon-ji - literally "Deer Garden Temple") is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto made famous in 1950 when it was destroyed by arson after surviving World War II. intact. It is one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting a large number of visitors annually. It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, and it is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites.
During the Onin war (14671477), all of the buildings in the complex aside from the pavilion were burned down.

The pavilion was burned down in 1950 by a 22-year-old novice monk, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. He survived, and was subsequently taken into custody. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released because of mental illnesses. During the fire, the original statue of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was lost to the flames (now restored). 

The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt. The pavilion is three stories high, 12.5 meters in height. The reconstruction is said to be a copy close to the original, although some doubt such an extensive gold-leaf coating was used on the original structure. In 1984, 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 coatings was completed in 1987. 

Additionally, the interior of the building, including the paintings and Yoshimitsu's statue, were also restored. Finally, the roof was restored in 2003. The name Kinkaku is derived from the gold leaf that the pavilion is covered in. Gold was an important addition to the pavilion because of its underlying meaning. The gold employed was to mitigate and purify any pollution or negative thoughts and feelings towards death. The material that covers the Golden Pavilion creates an impression that stands out because of the sunlight reflecting and the effect the reflection creates on the pond.

The Golden Pavilion is set in a magnificent Japanese strolling garden -- a landscape garden in the go-round style.  The pavilion extends over a pond, called Mirror Pond, that reflects the building. The pond contains 10 smaller islands. The zen typology is seen through the rock composition, the bridges, and plants that are arranged in a specific way to represent famous places in Chinese and Japanese literature. The four stones forming a straight line in the pond near the pavilion are intended to represent sailboats anchored at night, bound for the Isle of Eternal Life in Chinese mythology.

We took many photos from the vantage and focal points that were established because of the strategic placement of the pavilion to view the gardens surrounding the pavilion.

Back to the hotel to prepare for our 15-Course Meal Adventure



Bill and Sue-On Hillman