Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion or Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, Japan

Day 6 in Nara: New Miyako Hotel, A review - Heian Jingu Shrine and Garden - Nanzenji Temple and grounds - Nijo Castle - TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN PAVILION

We stood in awe, watching the patch of gold shimmer brightly in the afternoon sun. There was a positive aura emanating from the ancient structure...

It felt like we had approached a tremendous power radiating furnace...

The Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion of Kyoto in Japan

Guided by the lovely Nara blogger friend stardust (Yoko), we were standing at our final destination of Japan - the grounds of the Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden pavilion - one of the most sought after places to visit when in Kyoto.

The Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion of Kyoto in Japan
Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Listed among one of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites today, the original structure of Kinkaku-ji dates back to the Kamakura period (1185 – 1332) when it was known as the Rokuon-ji Temple. Explaining the history behind the temple, Yoko said that the building had seen many changes over the centuries. There was a time when the structure stood as a recreational villa in 1397 and then went on to become a Zen Buddhist temple in 1422 only to be later burnt down by a fanatic monk in 1950.

However creepy some of these stories may sound, but today, the 3 storied temple building of Golden pavilion remains as a proud history of Kyoto.

The Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion in Kyoto, Japan
The present standing structure was eventually rebuilt in 1955

As we made our way past the touristy crowd, we saw it. A few meters in the distance, like a blooming lotus in a pond, stood one of the most magnificent structures I had ever seen. The temple seemed to exude an unusual air of propriety; in the background, I could see the mountains standing guard as shoguns, military chiefs overlooking a thick cluster of foliage. The enchanting beauty of the Golden pavilion and its beautiful setting left us spellbound.

Words can’t do justice to describe its splendor... It was ethereal.

A close view - the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion or Kinkaku-ji

From the tourist viewing square area in the temple courtyard, we saw and savored this golden beauty framed delicately under the vast blue skies from different angles possible.

Can you see the Buddha inside?
Yoko turned our attention towards the ground floor.

First floor of the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan
Peek inside the open window of the temple

Through the window which lay open, I caught a rare glimpse of the Buddha meditating inside the dimly lit hall. Perhaps, this is where the aura was coming from, I thought.

The first and the second floors were closed but there was one more thing to watch out for and that was the top of the temple. Here, rested a golden figure of “Ho-o” – a classical Chinese mythical phoenix bird.

The golden figure of “ho-o” – a classical Chinese mythical phoenix bird in the Kinkaku-ji temple, Kyoto in Japan
"Ho-o": Ready to take flight or guarding the temple?

Leaving the area, we now started walking through a trail skirting the pavilion and I found myself in a world that turned out to be as fantastic and mesmerizing as what I had just seen. Strewn all along the path were typical Japanese styled Hojo buildings, silent ponds, a dribbling waterfall, prayerful coin statue, restful tea rooms and vivid souvenir shops.

A small pond in the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan
A man feeding fish in the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan
Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan - back view
A waterfall in the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan
Coin statue in the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan
Fudo Hall temple in the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan
Fudo Hall, a small temple hall which houses a statue of Fudo Myoo,
one of the Five Wisdom Kings and protector of Buddhism.

As we weaved our way through the courtyard, I realized that this place was not about golden beauty alone. It was equally of the other elements present there, all of which had blended together beautifully to contribute in the overall charm and nostalgic appeal of the temple. There was something so infectious about this place, its modest nature and its mystical entice was palpable even in the environs.


The Kinkaku-ji or the Golden pavillion, Kyoto in Japan
A golden page from Kyoto's history book

As the clock wound its way towards evening, there was no time left for anything more to see and we left for Kyoto station. An entire day had flown by, and the time was finally upon us to bid Kyoto...

... to bid Yoko, a hearty goodbye.

Sunset picture from Tokyo, Japan

You and I will meet again,
When we're least expecting it,
One day in some far off place,
I will recognize your face,
I won't say goodbye my friend,
For you and I will meet again.
~ Tom Petty

That evening, as I sat staring out of my Shinkansen window, I found the warmth of the evening sun a little more appealing than usual. In it, I could see reflections, my treasures, my very own sweet little bundle of sunshine ...

... Memories ... a priceless gift to cherish for a lifetime.



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68 comments:

  1. Wow :-) What a perfect setting. I am just visualizing the Budhha Statue and the Lotus in the pond that you had mentioned. Indeed the very thought of it is giving me positive vibes :-)

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  2. Words can't speak the splendor! Agree Arti:)

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  3. Such a beautiful place and marvelous captures as always, Arti!! It is always so much fun to meet up with blogger friends!! Hope your week is going well!

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  4. The structure looks so beautiful. Nice post!

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/2013/02/colours-of-maha-kumbh-mela.html

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  5. You are teasing us today...starting out from a distance and then showing us closer and closer. and finally in the fourth picture, wow!!! This is the most beautiful temple I have ever seen, and the grounds also!! In the third picture, I love the one small blue flower that is standing tall in front of the temple.

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  6. Wonderful !I feel like visiting this place..thanks for the virtual tour..Arti..

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  7. I love the buddha stone there, with the lake and green surrounding, seem like this temple is perfect place to do meditation (if less tourist and visitor) :)

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  8. lovely photos, Arti!!! and such a beautiful, and peaceful place..

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  9. @Arti Another beautiful post. Great to read. Awesome photographs. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. The place looks so serene! Makes one want to visit. :)

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  11. the buildings, the pond, the trees - everything looks so serene, arti.

    Have a great weekend! :)

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  12. What a lovely post - I can feel the beauty and peace of the temple! Your photos are gorgeous and have captured the sheer magic of the place.

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  13. Hi I am already follower to your lovely blog through GFC. It really feel pleasure meeting new awesome bloggers like you, I would love it if you follow me back

    my blog: www.wilsontom.blogspot.com

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  14. Very readable post with beautiful pictures...

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  15. You're making me fall in love with Japan, Aarti! ;)

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  16. As always a wonderful post, I think you have captured the peace of this place perfectly.

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  17. Beautiful place, both the temple and the surroundings.... Your eye for detail is amazing right from the glimpse of Budhha to the Ho-o bird and the zen gardens around. ... Thanks.

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  18. The final destination is beautiful. Lovely shots Arti and I am loving the tag lines you give to the pictures.

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  19. wow - lovely images indeed !! and to top it up !!
    You and I will meet again,
    When we're least expecting it,
    One day in some far off place,
    I will recognize your face,
    I won't say goodbye my friend,
    For you and I will meet again.
    ~ Tom Petty

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  20. What an incredibly lovely post! I really love all of the photos that you loaded and the detailed descriptions. Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us.

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  21. Oh Arti, your photos of this place is outstanding! They capture the beauty of Japan, and very much my thoughts of Japan!

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  22. Your words and photos combine to create a vision of a memorable place to visit. Simply beautiful.

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  23. Oh my goodness you can readily see why it is called the Golden Temple...it just shines...what a peaceful and beautiful spot. Your photos really evoke the spirit of it.

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  24. Wow! The golden pavilion and the golden sunset - both absolutely stunning.

    Happy Weekend, Arti! :)

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  25. Aaaah! Yes! I've heard of the golden temple. How lucky you are to see it in person. Amazing and beautiful. Thanks for the tour. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  26. Wowww!
    Amazing this is!
    Thanks for sharing :)

    Lots of love to you Arti dear!

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  27. I remembered Kinkaku-ji. It's a perfect temple for tourists. I went to the temple when I was a high school student. :)

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  28. Oh my, so much beauty in these photos Arti - this is like a dream! Love the poem at the end too! Have an amazing weekend full of more discoveries and JOY!

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  29. Really great. Recently I was a host for a Japanese couple and I have an invite to visit them. Your Japan visit will come in handy to guide me.

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  30. another very interesting place...I particularly love your photos here....the emphasis on the parts of the images was more than poetry itself...I could feel mesmerized simply reading your words and looking at the photographs, I wonder how awe struck I would be in person....yes I could see the Buddha meditating from inside...the photo of the golden sky...and the poem you shared makes my heart feel at peace....and wish that someday I could meet you in person Arti! :)

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    1. Amen to that, kulasa! Thank you :)

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  31. breathtakingly beautiful temple and landscaping!!!

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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  32. I hope this temple fitted to the finale of your travel in Japan, Arti. In this series of Kyoto tour, you did perfect photography in spite of little available storage of the memory card. How pleased we were to find a shop for a memory card before going to Kinkaku-ji! When I was a student, Kinkaku-ji was not my cup of tea for its extravagance of gold leaf over lacquer, but in our tour I thought it simply beautiful, maybe by the magic of afternoon glow, or maybe affected by the special friend with pure, beautiful soul. The poem is touching. Memory is the last and the most beautiful and powerful part of our experiences. I’ll be off line for about a week.

    Yoko

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    1. Very kind words there, Yoko. Truly honored to hear them, coming from you. Thank you. :-)

      And ah, yes.. the memory card shop! Since I had less storage available I had become more patient and all the more careful while taking pictures fearing that I may exhaust it all. Now, even I feel Kyoto pictures have come out better. Also, I remember you telling me that you had planned one more place for me after this one - a secret (right?). Alas, we could never make it there. Will I ever get to know what place was it or will it be worth waiting for it, till my next visit to Japan (if ever there is one that is)? :-)

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  33. I believe every temple is created to explore a inner space of peace and joy and this golden temple with all its beautifull serene environment brings out that inner bliss. Your writeup on this beautifull temple makes it more special ...

    You have inspired me so much about Japan that I will definitely visit Japan one day !! : )

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    1. True words, Satya. I agree, and that search for the inner peace is the real yatra. I hope you do visit Japan one day, it's really much more beautiful than what an amateur like me could show up here. :-)

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  34. ✿✿彡
    A paisagem é maravilhosa.
    O templo impressionante.
    Bom domingo!
    Boa semana!
    Beijinhos do Brasil
    ¸.•°✿✿彡

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  35. Ooo my dear Arti
    So beautiful, calm, elegant place!!!
    Your photos are amazing!
    Thank you for so beuty!
    Many kisses

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  36. Lovely scenery. So much like Xi'an in China. We are going to see it in two months, so exciting!

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  37. Great post - sometimes the beauty of a place just cannot be captured in a camera or expressed in words. You've done a good job, however :)

    I'll have to go through all the other Japan posts as time permits...

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  38. Absolutely beautiful! I've seen other Kyoto temples in other blog posts but this one is breathtaking. I can't imagine how this must have looked in person. Those grounds are beautiful too. Thanks for showing me I really need to visit Kyoto next time.

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  39. It very difficult to decide whether the temple is beautiful or its the photos.Amazing place and also pics.

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  40. Just an amazing place!

    Hi Arti, stopping by to say hello!

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  41. Fantastic photographs .. you have shown Kinkakuji in all its splendour ! Nature plays a very important role in Japan. And as you have rightly said. At kinkakuji, nature and the beautiful structure come together to lend a charm to the place.

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  42. Hi, Arti!

    “...... burnt down by a frantic monk in 1950” is not a historical fact. (I seem to have missed this part on my first visit.) In Yukio Mishima’s novel, “Kinkaku-ji/Golden Pavilion”, a monk set fire on the temple. The story was written based on the fact, real arson of Kinkakuji, in which the culprit was not a monk.

    On our visit to the temple, I told about Mishima’s novel along with the historical arson of Kinkakuji “very briefly”. I remember I told my interpretation about the novel, why the monk did such a terrible thing. Mishima looked obsessed with he idea of “beauty and death” and the beauty of Kinkaku-ji and the destruction of it could have been mulled over around his idea of “beauty and death”.

    I think if I had explained in more details, I wouldn’t have confused you, but that time I wanted to speak less to let your senses open up to the surroundings.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Yoko

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    1. Reading your comment, I now faintly remember you saying something about finding of beauty in destruction during our visit. My bad, I was so immersed in the temple that I forgot all about taking any notes. But, thank you for the clarification, Yoko. That clears a lot of things up! :-)

      Wish you a nice weekend too.

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  43. The image of Buddha was awesome. No wonder the place was divine as depicted in the images..

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  44. wow .. such a beautiful temple .. reminded me of golden temple in amritsar .. surrounded with water...

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  45. What a lovely place. Now let me get to the posts I missed last month

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  46. Situated in a scenic place, lovely shots.

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  47. Wow! beautiful temple. Some day I would love to be there.

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  48. wow...this place looksso lovely...

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  49. Its so delightfully serene and peaceful ! So interesting to read and get so much information about different cultures and places !

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  50. Wow !!! Beautiful place, both the temple and the surroundings....i think i would nt wish to come back frm that place. the whole atmosphere is serene

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  51. Beautiful pictures are saying a lot about it .

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  52. Serendipity it is..! Wonderful pictures, Arti and a nice write-up... :-)

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  53. There is so much charm in Japanese architecture and Japanese landscaping as well.
    Lovely!!

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  54. This poem at the end-it is priceless.

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  55. Gorgeous place(yet again!) Can see that you Enjoyed it to the utmost! :)
    What lovely lines :)
    Great info Arti!

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  56. wow so lucky that you got to visit this stunning beauty

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  57. So lovely, Arti!
    I wish to visit Japan :)
    Have you watched the Hindi movie - 'Rab Ne Banadi Jodi'? A visit to Japan features at the end :)

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