Essence of Japan: World-Famous Architecture


It would probably be one of the best-known sights both at home and abroad. The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku, stands out in the precincts of Kinkaku-ji Temple, officially named Rokuon-ji. The building was extensively renovated by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408), the third shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate, who firmly established authority of the Muromachi shogunate.
The Golden Pavilion is famous for its dazzling gorgeous gilding and was often used as a venue for political and diplomatic affairs. Any guest who was entertained in this building might have stood speechless and overwhelmed by its impressive structure. It is a three-story building successfully incorporating three distinct styles of architecture on each floor. The first floor is rendered in Shinden-zukuri style, evocative of the imperial palace popular with court nobles. The second floor is built in the style of warrior aristocrats, or buke-zukuri. The third floor is a Zen Buddhist-style structure. The building reveals the definite intention of Shogun Yoshimitsu who aimed to increase his influence by entering the priesthood at the zenith of his political career, so that he could exert his power without political constraints.
The Golden Pavilion requires no history-textbook explanation. It is outstanding with its undoubted splendor. Entering through the front gate of the temple takes you straight to Kyoko-chi (Mirror Pond), where you have a sudden, extensive view of the golden building standing across the quiet surface of the large pond. Nothing is as impressive as its golden reflection shimmering across the pond against a lush green background. As you walk through the garden, a view of the pavilion changes every time you take a glimpse of the building between trees. This must be another proper way of enjoying the beautiful scenery of Kinakaku.

The dazzling lights of the Golden Pavilion reflect off the green leaves, expressing its own beauty.
The Golden Pavilion weathered and witnessed a number of wars throughout history. It was sometimes exposed to acts of destruction by people. The building has been repeatedly renovated since its foundation, but the most extensive renovation took place rather recently, in 1952.
The building was set ablaze in 1950, and all the building was burned down except the main flames. This sensational incident drew public attention, which seemed to have encouraged the workers to be further committed to the major renovation work. Detailed records of the extensive works conducted during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) were available, helping the renovation work a great deal. Suppose the Golden Pavilion is a human, her bones, muscles, skin that cover them and make-ups were all replaced, and then she was completely reborn.
The planning process required extensive and meticulous works, using every possible record and material. Architects also referred to equivalent architectures built during the same age as the pavilion when they lacked necessary information. The primary objective of the renovation was to restore the pavilion to its original state. Part of collection notes written by the architects and workers still remain and can be found online. Reading the notes allows you to understand how enthusiastically they worked for the renovation by collecting all the knowledge and expertise available at the time.

Inner Beauty Is Hard to Come By


Seeking external beauty is relatively easy to achieve, but attaining internal beauty is not. True beauty springs within, an aesthetic value that is highly respected in Japan.
The Golden Pavilion is a relatively compact building, but it attracts visitors because they are moved by its breathtaking beauty, making some of them shake with excitement. Such effects on them may be caused by its outer golden beauty. But what captivates people’s hearts most must be some other invisible elements―the fruit of dedicated efforts of artisans and workers who used the best of all the accumulated expertise and knowledge gained over centuries for the renovation of the pavilion.
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The Exciting World of Beauty.
Kitamura Clinic
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