In the ancient capital of Japan, the beautiful city of Kyoto, you can see a landscape like no other.
The temple “Rokuon-ji” which means “Temple of the deer garden”, better known by its informal name “Kinkaku-ji” the “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”, is a Buddhist temple of the Zen type that was founded in 1397 as the resting village of the third shogun belonging to the Muromachi era, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. This shogun asked his son to turn the village into a Zen temple when he passed away.
Kinkakuji was built as a sample of the flamboyant Kitayama culture that developed in aristocratic circles in Kyoto during the times of the Yoshimitsu shogun. Each floor represents a different style of architecture.
The first floor was made in the Shinden style used for palace buildings during the Heian Period. With its natural wood pillars and white plaster walls it contrasts, but complements the golden upper floors of the pavilion. Statues of Buddha Shaka (historical Buddha) and Yoshimitsu are stored on the first floor. Although it is not possible to enter the pavilion, the statues can be seen from across the pond if you look closely, as the front windows on the first floor are generally kept open.
The second floor was made in the Bukke style used in samurai residences. Its exterior is completely covered in gold leaf. Inside there is a Bodhisattva Kannon, a Buddhist goddess of piety, sitting surrounded by statues of the Four Heavenly Kings, four Buddhist deities that protect the four cardinal points; however, the statues are not displayed to the public.
Finally, the third and highest floor was built in the style of a Chinese Zen Hall, it is gilded inside and out, and is covered with a golden phoenix.
Over the years this temple has suffered several fires, the most recent being in 1950, caused by a monk from the same temple. The enclosure burned down completely, but it was rebuilt in 1955 thanks to plans that had been made in the Meiji period for its restoration. The plans faithfully portray the design made more than 500 years ago.
The Rokuon-ji, along with the mirror pond that surrounds the entire temple, is one of the most beautiful and iconic landscapes in Japan in any of the four seasons of the year.
The Kinkaku-ji is a true work of art that goes beyond the earthly. An indescribable beauty.