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Okinawa City, Japan
March 24, 2010
From journal Kyoto Redux
April 2, 2007
Kinkakuji was originally built in the 14th century but The Temple of the Golden Pavilion may have achieved fame in the West due to the book by the same name by Yukio Mishima. This book is a fictionalized account of the psychology behind the crazed monk that decided to burn down the temple after World War II. Fortunately, the beautiful golden pavilion was re-built and now may be even more remarkable than before the fire, when the gold leaf was peeling and barely visible.
I highly recommend visiting this popular temple early. It opens at 9am. If you can make it early, you will avoid the masses of tour groups clammering for a peek. After purchasing your ticket, you will walk in for a stunning view of the golden pavilion. It is a large structure surrounded by a peaceful moat. On the roof of the temple you'll notice phoenixes, a symbol of re-birth. You can't enter the temple but you will walk the path surrounding it, getting a unique view at different angles.
Near the exit, you have the option of participating in a tea ceremony for a small fee. Watch the Japanese people there for help on how to behave. When you are presented the tea cup, be sure to turn it around so that the most beautiful side is shown to the hostess. You'll also find extensive gift and food options. Feel free to take a sample of traditional Japanese sweets if you see a small tray and toothpicks. You can also purchase a temple charm, or omomori, embroidered with phoenixes and a small Golden Pavilion.
This beautiful temple shouldn't be missed. It has something to offer at each season, from the time of the cherry blossoms to the change of the foliage to the coming of snow. For the most awe-inspiring visit, come early before the crowds hit and bring your camera!
From journal Kyoto's Imperial Charms
by Shannon Schiner
August 18, 2004
The history of the land winds through many fascinating people. Including the third Ashikaga shogun, who left a will stating that after his death the land would become a temple.
The gardens serve a purpose of reflecting the Buddhist view of the surrounding world. The famous golden pagoda was built to house the sacred relics of the Buddha. Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Kinkaku-ji is a very popular tourist destination and it is reasonable to expect to see several other visitors around the temple and wandering along the garden paths.
From journal Sites of Kyoto
August 6, 2002
Originally called Shariden and now with the more formal name of Rokuon-ji Temple, the original Kinkaku-ji was built in 1394 as part of a retirement villa for a former Shogun, who was an enthusiast of Chinese culture. After his death, the complex was converted into a Zen temple. The pavilion was set ablaze by a disgruntled monk in 1950, but it was completely rebuilt by 1955. The pavilion was regilded with a new coating of gold leaf in 1987. The pavilion has three levels, each with a different architectural style. The second and third levels of the pavilion shimmer with a layer of gold leaf over Japanese lacquer. Originally, only the ceiling of the third floor had the gold coating. A phoenix figure and a shingle roof top the pavilion.
The natural colors of the surrounding gardens and the hills of Kitayama contrast with the "unreal" golden tone of the pavilion, which looks like a huge foil-wrapped piece of chocolate. Once you walk past the Golden Pavilion and Mirror Pond, you will encounter another smaller pond, surrounding an island with a small stone pagoda. You will also spot the Sekka-tei, a classic teahouse that was restored in 1997.
Kinkaku-ji is located in the northwest part of Kyoto. It is accessible by several city bus lines, but it is a fair distance from the nearest subway station.
From journal Bill in Japan - traditional KYOTO
July 30, 2001
The Golden Pavilion, for which this temple complex is known, is the first sight that greets an excited visitor. Named after the gold paper that covered the structure, the Golden Pavilion is a three-storied hall situated at the margin of a large pond. Its architecture is typical of the Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), which means that each floor is of a different style. The first floor is styled after the palace of the noble of the Heian period(794-1192). The second floor is of the Kamakura period (1192-1333), while the third floor is of a Chinese style, so its roof has a Chinese phoenix-a lucky bird in China. The large pond on which the pavilion is built is a reflecting pond. We were lucky to be there on a clear day, so even a photograph taken by our cheap point-and-shoot camera showed the temple and its reflection in the blue-green water. The temple looks just like perfection itself.
Throughout the more than 600 years of history, this temple had been rebuilt several times. Originally, only the top floor was covered in gold leaf. In the 1950s, a monk immolated himself in the temple, purportedly to carry its perfection with him. When it was rebuilt in 1955, 100,000 pieces of 22K gold paper(10cm x 10cm) were used to gild both the first and second floors of the pavilion. In 1987, 200,000 pieces of 24K new gold papers were pasted again, thereby rendering the pavilion as shiny as it ever was. The new facelift cost more than $7 million. This temple was recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, and as such, it is on the itinerary of many tours and many tourists. We were lucky at the time, however. We must have gotten to the temple in between the tour buses, because the temple was peaceful and only a few visitors were loitering around. We had a great time admiring the temple from every angle, without obstruction.
After admiring the pavilion, follow the well-tended path to admire the numerous koi swimming in the pond, and relax in the various benches placed throughout the temple complex. Finally, you can enjoy a Japanese tea ceremony. The temple also has a gift shop.
From journal Kyoto - The Japan of Old