Keihanshin (京阪神) Episode 16: Kinkakuji Temple (金閣寺)

The next day morning, I headed to another popular attractions of Kyoto. The Kinkakuji Temple (do not mistaken with Ginkakuji temple). The kinkakuji (金閣寺) literally means Golden Pavilion.  It is located at the north of Kyoto, and taking the bus from Kyoto station will take approximately 40 minutes.

Upon reaching the entrance, there is a greenery pathway towards the main gate. It is a breezing morning, the ray of sunlight is penetrating the branches and leaves. My mood is good.

Rule number 1 when come to free and easy tour, is to understand the area well before exploring. The map near the main gate is a useful one.

In front of the main gate, Somon, is a big stone inscribed with “World heritage, Kinkakuji, Rokuon-ji”.

After buying the ticket, not far away from the main gate, is the well-known Kinkakuji. For those of Apple OS X user, you might be familiar with it as it is one of the pre-installed wallpaper for the OS’s desktop.

The site was originally the site of a villa called Kitayama-dai (北山第)and owned by a stateman, Saionji Kintsune (西園寺公園). Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the third shogun of the Muromachi period, took a liking of the area and acquired it from the Saionji family in 1397. He then built his own villa, which he named Kitayama-den (山莊北山殿).

After Yoshimitsu died, in keeping with his will, the villa was converted into a temple bu the priest Muso-Kokushi (夢窓國師), who then became the first abbot.The temple’s name, Rokuonji (鹿苑寺), was derived from the name Yoshimitsu was given for the next world (法号), Rokuon-in-den.

The Pavilion had been destructed by a fire setup by a young monk in 1905. But it was rebuilt in 1955 and follow the exact original layout.

The Pavilion is also called Shariden (舎利殿) where it housed the Relics of Buddha. Each floor is utilizing a different architectural style. The first floor is called “The chamber of Dharma water” (法水院), is rendered in Shinden-zukuri (寝殿造り) style associated with the residential style in Heian Period.

The second floor is called “The tower of sound waves” (潮音洞), and it is built in Samurai architectural stylen, Buke-tsukuri (武家造り).

The third floor is called Kukkyo-cho (究竟頂), is built in traditional Chinese Zen style.

The top floor is a bronze phoenix ornament which presenting prosperity.

The garden and buildings, centered on the Golden Pavilion, were said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world. The villa is also functioned as a guesthouse, welcoming Emperor Gokomatsu, 後小松天皇 (the father of Zen teacher, Ikkyu 一休禪師) and other members of the nobility.

The Golden Pavilion is not opened for public. The picture below depicted what is the interior and their architectural style.

The pine tree, 陸舟之松, which literally means the “Pine tree of the boat on land” is planted by Yoshimitsu. It is already 600 years old. It was arranged and looked like a boat, facing to the west, towards the Pure Land of the West (西方浄土).

A pathway towards the hill nearby.

A lot of carps in the ponds.

At the end of the pathway, a small stalls selling souvenirs.

I bought an amulet, or Omamori (御守) from the stall. The talisman on the right is actually the ticket for entrance.

Yoshimitsu is an enthusiast of Japanese tea ceremony. He used the spring water to prepare the tea. However, the spring water is depleted at the present.

The Ryumon Taki and the Carp Rock.

There is a place for resting and having Japanese Tea – Ocha. The red color seat and the tree and plants made a strong contrast.

This is the Fudo-do (不動堂) and the main image is a stone staue of the Budhist deity Fudo-myo-o. The statue is thought to have made in the 9th century by Kobo-daishi (弘法大师), founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Although normally hidden from public view, the image has long been revered for miraculous power. Open door rituals are held on Setsubun (in early February) and on August 16.

The incense and candle for praying. Each candle representing different wishes, choose your desired one, and put the money in the donation box nearby.

The way back to the exit is a long and steep pathway. How I wish I could take a bicycle and rushing down with great speed.

Information:

How to get there: From Kyoto Station take bus number 101 or 205 (45 minutes)

Hours: 09:00 ~ 17:00

Admission: 400 Yen

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