Kinkakuji ("Golden Pavilion Temple") is the common nickname of Rokuonji ("Deer Garden Temple"), a beautiful Zen temple in Kyoto, Japan.
Kinkakuji was built in 1393 as a retirement villa for Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga (1358-1409). He intended to cover the exterior with gold, but only managed to coat the ceiling of the third floor with gold leaf before his death. The shogun lived here in luxury as Kyoto’s people suffered the effects of severe famine, earthquakes and plague – as many as 1,000 people died each day during this period.
After his death, his son converted the building into a Zen temple of the Rinzai school named Rokuonji, in accordance with Ashikaga’s wishes. This was an established tradition and many of Kyoto’s temples are former retirement villas.
Kinkakuji burned down several times during the Onin War. In 1950, the Golden Pavilion burned again, this time by a fanatical monk. A fictionalized version of the events is told in Yukio Mishima’s 1956 book The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
The present temple structure dates from 1955, which was rebuilt true to the original except for a significant enhancement: both upper stories are covered in gold leaf, in accordance with Ashikaga’s original intentions. In 1987, the temple was re-covered in gold leaf five times thicker than the original coating!
Posted on 2012-01-25 08:03:05
Tagged: , Japan , Travel , Golden , Palace , Kinkaku-ji , Temple , Pavilion