The Kansai Episode: Gust, Auction

The only gold worth owning is one that’s bought with the heart.

Continuing our exploration of the ancient capital of Japan, we arrive at our destination with little daylight to spare. The sunsets have been slowly but certainly creeping anti-clockwise up the face. Nightfall just a few days ago in Osaka was at 4.48pm, and was now averaging at 4.25pm.

Kinkakuji, meaning Golden Pavilion in Japanese, is located at the foothills of Kitayama in northern Kyoto. It’s particularly well-known for its top floors are completely covered in gold leaf. As the retirement villa of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, it was known as Rokuonji after his death in 1408 – a zen temple of the Rinzai sect. Given Japan’s troubled past, and the high propensity of destruction either by civil strife or natural disasters, the Golden Pavilion is the only building left of the complex. It received its near annihilation most particularly during the Onin War, a civil war that destroyed much of the ancient capital. It was torched once again by an extremist monk. The current structure, despite being the sole structure left, was rebuilt in 1955, so it’s not entirely old.

Each floor is unique in terms of architecture. Reflecting the very foundations of society at the time, the first floor embodies a Shinden style used for palace buildings during the Heian Period. The statues of Shaka Buddha and Yoshimitsu are placed on this level as well. Characteristic of the extravagant and showy culture of the wealthy aristocrats during Yoshimitsu’s time, the first floor is specifically designed to evoke gawks from people outside with the front windows kept open. The natural wood pillars and white plaster wall contrasts yet forms a complementary contrast against the upper floors which have a samurai Bukke style and Chinese Zen vibe to it.

A closer look at…

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