Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kinkaku-ji: The Golden Pavillion in Kyoto

This rather fetching little early fourteenth century structure, set within the grounds of a magnificent strolling garden, was conceived as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. His son Ashikaga Yoshimochi then converted it into a Zen temple of the Rinzai school. (Properly known as Rokuon-ji.)

The uppermost storey reflects traditional Chinese cha'an style (aka zenshu-butsuden-zukuri). The one below it, also covered in gold leaf, is in the house style of the Samurai, or Buke-Zukuri. The ground floor is rendered in Shinden-Zukuri style, apparently reminiscent of the residential style of the Heian imperial aristocracy. Upon the roof covered with shingles sits a Chinese phoenix.

The building you see in the clip was reconstructed after an arson attack in 1959; an event which is central to the plot of Yukio Mishima's The Temple of the Golden Pavillion.

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