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Temple of the Golden Pavilion / Kinkaku-ji Buddhist Temple

Kyoto, Japan
One of 17 World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in Kyoto

Built 1398 ... Destroyed 1950 ... Reconstructed 1955

The name Kinkaku-ji means the "Temple of the Golden Pavilion". Constructed in Kyoto's northern hills in 1398 by Yoshimitsu, the third Ashikaga shogun, it was once part of a much larger villa complex. When he died it became a Zen temple in accordance with his will.

Sadly, the original temple burned in 1950 when a deranged Buddhist monk set it ablaze. A good dramatization of the arson can be found in the book 'The Temple of the Golden Pavilion' by Yukio Mishima.

Each floor of the Kinkaku-ji is a different style. The first floor- called The Chamber of Dharma Waters—is inspired by the Heian mansions of the 11th century and often described as the Shinden style. It is merely a large room surrounded by a veranda. The veranda sits beneath the more massive second story and is separated from the interior by reticulated [Reticulated: relating to or denoting a style of decorated tracery characterized by circular shapes drawn at top and bottom into ogees, resulting in a netlike framework] shutters called Shitomido. The Shitomido reach only halfway to the ceiling, allowing ample light and air in the interior.

The second story, called The Tower of Sound Waves, is the Samurai house style. Intended as a Buddha hall, it encloses an icon of the Bodhisattva Kannon.

The third story is built in the Zen style, with cusped windows and ornamentation. Appropriately, it houses an Amida triad and twenty-five Bodhisattvas. A Chinese phoenix crowns the eaves.

- Asian Historical Architecture (online March 2014)
A curious detail is that this was the only original building in the complex that survived to our days, since the others were destroyed by war and rebuilt over time. However, in 1950 a crazy monk set it on fire, trying to commit suicide afterwards. The monk was captured and subsequently the police called his mother for questioning. When she returned home she could not stand the shame and committed suicide by jumping from a train. The monk was sentenced to 7 years in prison but died before completing his sentence.These events have been recreated on the novel The Temple of Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima.

- My Architectural Moleskine (online March 2014)
Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion) is the popular name for one of the main buildings of this temple, which is properly called Rokuon-ji (Deer Park Temple, a temple dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Kannon). The land was first developed as the kitayamaden (mountain getaway) of Kintsune Saionji (1171–1244) and included both a temple and a villa.

The site became the property of Yoshimitsu (1358–1408), the third shogun of Ashikaga, who abdicated the throne in 1394. In 1397 he began construction of his retirement estate, and he made a special effort to make it a breathtaking site. He indulged in his peaceful life in this serene setting. After his death in 1408, the pavilion was made into a temple for the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism in accordance with his will; the name Rokuon comes from Yoshimitsu’s Buddhist name. All the buildings of those days came to ruin except Kinkaku. The garden, however, remains as it was in former days and can be enjoyed as it was hundreds of years ago. The Rokuon-ji Temple was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1994.

Building

The pavilion as a shariden, a square reliquary hall used to enshrine relics of the Buddha. Each of its three floors is designed in a different style, yet the three harmonize well and create a spectacular architectural effect.

The first floor, called the Hō-sui-in (Chamber of Dharma Waters) is in the shinden-zukuri palace style developed in the Heian period. It contains a large room and a veranda. In the days of Yoshimitsu, this floor was used as a reception hall for welcoming guests.

The second floor was built in the style of samurai houses, buke-zukuri style, and is called Chō-on-dō (Hall of Roaring Waves). This is where Yoshimitsu held his private meetings with honored guests. This floor is decorated with paintings by Kano Masanobu (1434–1530) and holds an image of the Bodhisattva Kannon with Shitenno images on both sides.

The final floor, known as the Kukkyō-chō (Firmament Top), is only a few square meters (about 23 square feet) and was used for intimate meetings with friends and tea ceremonies. It is built in the karayō, or Zen temple, style, inspired by the architecture of the Sung Chinese style. It has bell-shaped windows and three Amida images. On the shingled roof is a bronze statue of a phoenix just over a meter tall and covered with gold leaf.

The second and third floors are covered with gold leaf on Japanese lacquer.

The pond is even filled with lotus plants, symbolizing the flower of truth rising from the mud of the mundane world.  Also placed in the pond are several stones and islands, representing the eight oceans and nine mountains of the Buddhist creation story.

- Golden Pavilion (online March 2014)



 

Gate (mon) ... Seven details below:



Gate (mon) - #1 of seven details: Decorated plank door



Gate (mon) - #2 of seven details: ceramic roof tiles (kawara)... End titles ... Curved eaves



Gate (mon) - #3 of seven details
Top: Onigawara
Onigawara are decorative roof tiles typically placed at the ends of the main ridge on temple structures, shrines, and residences. As an ornamental architectural element, Onigawara (literally “goblin tile”) came to prominence in Japan’s Kamakura period (1185-1332), In most cases, these elements serve decorative, functional, and protective roles in preventing weathering and in warding off evil spirits, fire, etc.



Gate (mon) - #4 of seven details
Oni.
"The oni is the havoc-wreaking bad guy, the ogre or demon of Japanese folk tales, often depicted with a horn or pair of horns on its head and sharp fangs in its mouth. It seems to be a composite monster drawn from Buddhist hell and demons, evil spirits of the Yin-Yang theory, and Chinese ghosts and ghouls. But the Japanese oni is worshiped, too, as an awe-inspiring figure. At a festival in northern Japan, men disguised as oni, called namahage visit each home to scare the small children." - Mark Schumacher (online Feb. 2014)



Gate (mon) - #5 of seven details



Gate (mon) - #6 of seven details:  Floral and plant designs on the kawara are not only end roof tiles that protect houses from damage, but also function to mystically protect a house ... End tiles: Half-cylinder ceramic tiles, capped with end tiles embellished with carved reliefs of flowers



Gate (mon) - #7 of seven details: Floral and plant designs (hana-gawara) on the kawara ... End tiles: Half-cylinder ceramic tiles, capped with end tiles embellished with carved reliefs of flowers



The Golden Pavilion.
A three-story pavilion built of timber frame and a clay tile roof.
The pavilion is a shariden, a square reliquary hall used to enshrine relics of the Buddha. Each of its three floors is designed in a different style, yet the three harmonize well and create a spectacular architectural effect.



 Both the second and third levels are gilded, and crowned with the image of a gilded  phoenix on top.

The third level is made in Zen style and is called Kukkyoo-choo, containing a triad of Buddhas and 25 Bodhisattva figurines.

The second floor, called the Tower of Wind Waves (Buke-zukuri) is made in samurai style, formed by an enclosed room, with sliding screens, removable windows and with a peripheral railing, houses the Bodhisattva Kannon.



Gilded  phoenix



Gilded first story



Placed in the pond are several stones and islands, representing the eight oceans and nine mountains of the Buddhist creation story 
























Incense burner



Rafters support overhanging eaves



After devotees make an offering, it is customary to sound a gong by pulling the rope.



A gong pull



Rope and gong



Photos and their arrangement 2013 Chuck LaChiusa
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