The landmark of an ancient capital: Kinkaku-ji - The most "extravagant" temple in Japan
Kyoto is a place gathering various Japanese traditional cultural imprints since ancient times. Coming to Kyoto, you can let your soul wander along with the flow of history, feel the spiritual beauty when visiting famous temples, shrines, and historic streets. In part 1 of this article, join us to visit the famous gold-plated temple - Kinkaku-ji temple of Japan!
Officially named Rokuon-ji (also called with popular name as Temple of the Golden Pavilion), is a Rinzai-sect Zen temple of Shokoku-ji school. This temple will surely surprise you with its unique architecture, built meticulously and especially, the two upper floors of the temple are completely covered in gold leaf. This is the reason why it is considered as a national treasure of Japan.
From Kyoto station, we took the bus number 101 to arrive at the Golden Pavilion, which only took about 30-40 minutes.
Before entering the temple, people usually wash their hands thoroughly to perform the ritual of removing all of the dust before entering the sacred place. As I set foot on the road leading to the temple, I began to notice the visible antiquity, as there were many old trees dating back to hundreds of years on both sides of the road.
I felt like I was walking into a primary forest, the sunlight filtered through the mysterious deep green leaves of the old trees, highlighted the white smoke floating in the air, and gave me an unfamiliar feeling. This scenery was so far away from the noise and haste of the outside world.
Suddenly, the temple bell made a sound that rang out far away, which brought me back to reality. I quickly picked up my pace as I wanted to see with my own eyes the gold plated temple which I had heard of for a long time.
The entrance fee was quite cheap, each adult ticket cost 400 yen, and child ticket cost 300 yen.
It was very sunny outside, but I still saw a lot of people waiting patiently in line. It took a long waiting time to purchase the tickets, as we lined up for 15 minutes to get inside. Meanwhile, the bell sounds kept ringing as if urging, inviting us.
The three-story temple was located right over a large pond. Each floor was built in a different architectural style.
The first floor was built in the Shinden-zukuri style, which was used for the Heian-era palace in the 11th century. The first floor, made entirely from natural woods of the same color as the roof and white plaster walls, provided some contrast yet also brought harmony between the temple and the tranquil beauty of nature.
The second floor was built in the Buke-zukuri style, popularly used for samurai residences in the past.
The third floor was built in the traditional Zen style which was very popular during the Muromanchi period.
The second and third floors were covered in gold, and under the golden sunlight, glistened even more while casting the reflection on the pond, creating an enchanting and beautiful sight. It is believed that gold will protect people from negative thoughts about death. The scenery in front of me was so peaceful and clear, it made me want to slow down, turn my heart toward Buddha and think about our human existence.
A small tip when visiting Kinkaku-ji: hire a tour guide to learn more about the architectural style tied to the history of each floor! Visitors can only admire the outside beauty while the tour guides can reveal more about both the inside of the temple and the intentions of its creators.
Walking around, we enjoyed a lot of beautiful views. Small temples surrounded by precious old majestic trees standing tall and proud. That is the reason why I said this temple is so extravagant. It felt very similar to the residences of a rich court nobility in the past, a generous beauty but also very aristocratic.
After sightseeing the scenery, I followed the rocky paths to explore around. There was a very nice souvenir area, but unfortunately visitors were not allowed to take pictures of it. Along the way there were several places where people could throw the coins for luck.
There was a central location in the shape of a large plate surrounded by stones carved with Buddha representations, if anyone can hit that location, it will bring the person good fortune. There were many people lined up to throw the coins, some even threw dozens of coins but could not hit the plate. The same went for me, it was difficult to hit the spot, however I still found it very interesting.
I patiently climbed up to reach the final destination before going down, to visit a very old house made of natural woods that had lasted since a long time ago. All of these gave me a peaceful feeling, here my mind was calmed like a water surface returning to tranquility.
Kinkakuji fully deserves the title of a World Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO. If you have the opportunity to visit Kyoto, do not miss this place.
Hi guys, my name is Huong Giang. I love travelling and Japan is the place that I can do what I desire to do. I hope my experiences will inspire you and it would be glad if we can share our things in common <3
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