The Japanese city of Kyoto, as the former imperial capital of Japan, treasures some of the most important architectural jewels of the Asian country. Among them appears this Golden Pavilion or Kinkauji.
To know the history of this place, you have to go back to the 14th century, to the times of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358 – 1408). A shogun was a position given directly by the emperor and granted to the most trusted generals. I mean, it was a very powerful character in his time.
Kinkauji in Kyoto
Well, this shogun decided to buy a villa in this paradisiacal place of Kyoto. A villa that he planned to expand with a seven-story pagoda, a tea house, and the Golden Pavilion, originally so named not because of its color, but because gold was actually used for its walls
That villa was his retirement from 1399, although after his death, the place ceased to have a residential use, and became a temple that was calledRakuon-ji.
The truth is that very few of the original constructions have survived to this day, although it was completely intact until 1950, when a mad monk set it on fire. That event was experienced in Japan as a true catastrophe, and in fact its reconstruction was quickly undertaken, and the dates must be taken into account, since in those years Japan washeavily damaged after losing WWII.
The construction itself, as occurs in practically all Japanese historical architecture, offers us a building that is perfectly integrated and adapted to its natural environment, here truly splendid due to the presence of the river, a forest and rocks.
It is a pavilion with a rectangular floor plan, which visually has three floors on a stone plinth. The first floor is open with porticoes, and another small pavilion with a stilt structure was added to one of its sides, that is, with wooden pylons that raise it above the water.
The second floor is open, with a very simple design railing around it. And the third floor is very similar, but in this case it is crowned by the roof, which has a reproduction of the phoenix on its upper part. It is a very wide roof, and with a lot of overhang. The entire construction has a pronounced sense of lightness, one could say that it is almost ethereal, which in some way gives an idea of fragility, especially due to its practically completely open floors.
While it served as a residence, the dwelling was the lowest floor. And during that time, the second floor was used for cultural gatherings, and only religious ceremonies were practiced at the top. However, when it was transformed into a Buddhist temple, this layout changed, using the lower area as a space for meditation, the middle area to store the religious images, and the upper area to guard the relics.