Thursday, 17 April 2008

Day 8 Part 3 - Kyoto (京都) Kinkakuji (金閣寺)

Kinkakuji (金閣寺), also known as the "Temple of the Golden Pavilion", is so famous that it is the subject of the novel by Mishima Yukio (三島由紀夫).

This site is more properly known as Rokuonji (鹿苑寺), or the Deer Park Temple. It was originally the home of an aristocrat, and then taken over by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満) and the Golden Pavilion was constructed along with other buildings in the late fourteenth century as a representation of the Pure Land of Bliss (an important concept in the Pure Land branch of Buddhism). It was converted to a temple on the death of the shogun, but tragically all the buildings except the Golden Pavilion was destroyed in the fifteenth century. The Golden Pavilion survived until 1950 when it was burned down in a deliberate act of arson by a monk. Mishima's novel is a fictionalised account of the life of this monk leading up to the destruction of the temple. The building was reconstructed in 1955, supposedly an exact replica, and re-gilded in the the 1980s, so it probably looks shinier than the original has ever been over it's long life.

We arrived by bus. This is the ticket office:

And this is the entrance - the Black Gate (黒門):

After that, there is short walk to the main gate through a path across a grove of trees and a stone lantern:

Map of the area:

This is the main gate (総門):

Interesing moat behind the main gate:

The bell tower (鐘楼) supposedly dates back to the original aristocrat who owned the land:

The reliquary, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is a three story building set against the Kyoukochi Pond (), with an artificial island called Ashihara Island (葦原島) in the middle (supposedly representing Japan):

A closeup of the pond and Ashihara Island:

Photos of the Kinkakuji, from various points of view:

Nearby is the Abbot's Quarters (方丈):

Interesting pine tree in front of the building:

There's also a path leading to a spot where you can view the wildlife on the pond - I was amazed at how ferociously the fish and turtles were grabbing the food:

After that we walked through a wooded area that led to the Shin-un Shrine (榊雲):

This is the Milky Way Spring (銀河泉) - traditionally used for tea ceremonies:

And next to it is a another stream called Water beneath the Rocks (巌下水) - traditionally used for taking a shower and freshening up:

The fencing on these stone steps is called Kinkakuji Fencing (金閣寺垣):

View of the steps from above:

The stone bridge is called the Tiger Gorge Bridge (虎渓橋):

This is the Dragon Gate Falls (竜門滝) - so called because the stones at the base of the falls resemble carp, and legend says when carps climb up a waterfall they become dragons - the stone in middle resembles a carp transforming into a dragon:

We climbed up to a higher level with additional buildings:

A set of of Buddhist stone sculptures:

This pond with a stone pagoda (called the White Snake Mound or 白蛇塚) in an island in the middle is called Tranquility Pond (安民沢):

Views of Kinkakuji from the distance:

This is the Favourable Sunset Teahouse (夕佳亭) - supposedly the best place to view the evening sun reflecting off the Golden Pavilion:

A souvenir shop:

The Fudou Hall (不動堂) is a popular place of worship:

The Visitor's Teahouse also contains a souvenir shop:

The exit contains a large number of vending machines:

It was so humid the camera was fogged up in the bus:

No comments:

Post a Comment