Temple of the Golden Pavilion Travel Guide

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Kinkaku-ji (lit. "Temple of the Golden Pavilion"), officially named Rokuon-ji (lit. "Deer Garden Temple"), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The garden complex is an excellent example of Muromachi period garden design.

Kinkaku-ji, Japan
Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Japan

The Muromachi period is considered to be a classical age of Japanese garden design. The correlation between buildings and its settings were greatly emphasized during this period. It was a way to integrate the structure within the landscape in an artistic way. The garden designs were characterized by a reduction in scale, a more central purpose, and a distinct setting. A minimalistic approach was brought to the garden design, by recreating larger landscapes in a smaller scale around a structure.

Kinkaku-ji, Japan
Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Japan

It is designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape, and it is one of 17 locations comprising the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Site. It is also one of the most popular buildings in Japan, attracting a large number of visitors annually.

Kinkaku-ji, Japan
Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Japan

The Golden Pavilion is a three-story building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha (Buddha's Ashes). The building was an important model for Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion Temple), and Shokoku-ji, which are also located in Kyoto. When these buildings were constructed, Ashikaga Yoshimasa employed the styles used at Kinkaku-ji and even borrowed the names of its second and third floors.

Kinkaku-ji, Japan
Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Japan

The pavilion successfully incorporates three distinct styles of architecture which are shinden, samurai, and zen, specifically on each floor.[11] Each floor of the Kinkaku uses a different architectural style. The first floor, called The Chamber of Dharma Waters, is rendered in shinden-zukuri style, reminiscent of the residential style of the 11th century Heian imperial aristocracy. It is evocative of the Shinden palace style.

Kinkaku-ji, Japan
Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Japan

The Golden Pavilion is set in a magnificent Japanese strolling garden. The location implements the idea of borrowed scenery that integrates the outside and the inside, creating an extension of the views surrounding the pavilion and connecting it with the outside world. The pavilion extends over a pond, called Kyoko-chi, that reflects the building. The pond contains 10 smaller islands.

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