Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto


Kinkaku-ji, Temple of the Golden Pavilion, a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

The Golden Pavilion was originally built in the XIV century. A shogun bought this place and converted into a villa – a place for contemplation and solitude in his final years. The pavilion is surrounded by a garden laid out in Japanese style around a lake (called a ‘pond’ in Japanese). After the shogun’s death, the pavilion and the surrounding buildings were converted into a Zen temple. 

The pavilion is covered with a golden leaf coat that gives it an outstanding look. The building we can admire today is however not the original one. The Pavilion was torched in 1950 by a novice monk, and fully restored in 1955. The golden leaf coat was once again restored in the eighties. (>>>)

Some historical comment is probably needed here. Japan was for thousand years an empire. For most of the time however, from the late XII to late XIX century, the actual rulers of the country were shoguns – the military dictators with absolute power. Emperors held only a ceremonial role.