Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

Kinkakuji (金閣寺, Golden Pavilion) stands facing Kyoko-chi (mirror lake) pond. Though the pavilion is not huge in size, people would be impressed at the first sight of brilliant golden walls of the building. The pavilion and its reflection on the water as well as islets and trees weave into a beauty and create a peaceful atmosphere. This Zen temple, Rokuon-ji, being frequently called Kinkaku-ji because of the golden pavilion, attracts many visitors all the year round.


The place originally was a villa of a powerful statesman SAIONJI Kintsune (1171-1244), that was called Kitayama-dai. The third ASHIKAGA Shogun, Yoshimitsu (1358-1408), who abdicated the shogunate in 1394, bought the place from the Saionjis in 1397. Three years later, he started to build his version of villa, Kitayama-den. The villa, that constitutes of Kinkaku, gardens and other buildings, is said to be designed to realize Buddhist paradise on the earth.

After Yoshimitsu's death, Kitayama-den was made into a Zen temple, so as to carry out his will. Muso Kokushi was assigned as the founder of the temple also in accordance with the late shogun's will. During Onin civil war (1467-1477), all the buildings except Kinkaku were burned down. The garden, however, remains as original and can be enjoyed as it was hundreds of years ago. In 1950, Kinkaku was set fire by a student monk and reduced to ashes. The present building was rebuilt in 1955.


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