This was my reaction when I saw Kinkaku-ji for the first time in my childhood.
My parents told me the temple is covered with gold leaf before getting there.
But the real thing made me astonished!
Seeing the actual golden temple was definitely different from looking at the pictures.
The shining golden color of Kinkaku-ji and the gold reflection on the pond below….
It was so beautiful and I just stayed at the pond and gazed on the temple and its reflection.
It surely is the most popular temple in Kyoto.
I’d like to introduce the beautiful Kinkaku-ji to you with pictures taken in early summer, autumn and winter in this article.
Pictures of Kinkaku-ji in early summer.
The formal name of this temple is ‘Rokuon-ji’, but because this golden building called ‘Kinkaku (magnificent gold)’ is distinctive building, people started to call it ‘Kinkaku-ji.’
Kinkaku-ji was first used as the residence of Yoshimitsu Ashinaga, the third Shogun of Muromachi Shogunate from 1397.
Yoshimitsu Ashikaga established the peak of politics, economics and culture of the Muromachi era.
As also functioned as a center of politics, Rokuon-ji was large for a residence.
After Yoshimitsu died, it became a Zen temple in 1420 as per his will.
Rokuon-ji was named after Yoshimitsu’s posthumous Buddhist name ‘Rokuon-in-dono.’
Kinkaku-ji is one of the most famous building of Kitayama Culture (a culture in Muromachi era in Japan).
Current Kinkaku-ji was rebuilt in 1955 after the original building was set on fire in 1950.
It is registered as part of the world heritage site ‘historic monuments of ancient Kyoto’ in 1994.
It was in early summer when Kinkaku-ji made beautiful with the fresh young leaves.
Now, let me show you the pictures taken in autumn when Momiji (Japanese maple) turns red.
Pictures of Kinkaku-ji in autumn.
It looks splendid in red Momiji leaves.
Unlike other Japanese temples, Kinkaku-ji is bright, but it tones down a little with colorful nature in autumn.
The first floor of Kinkaku-ji is called ‘Hossui-in,’ this style is a typical nobleman’s residence in the Heian period.
The style of second floor is Shoin (study or drawing room) style of architecture (aka samurai-style house) and the third is Buddhist chapel style, called ‘Kukkyohchoh.’
The first floor is not covered with gold leaf, but the second and third floors are.
For the third floor, it is even more gorgeous as the walls and ceiling are also covered with gold leaf.
The land is approx. 326 acres. Half of the land is the garden, which is centered around the Kyokochi pond (mirror pond).
It looks even more magnificent with red leaves.
Last but not least is the pictures of Kinkaku-ji with snow.
Pictures of Kinkaku-ji in winter.
Kinkaku-ji with snow may have been the most beautiful scene.
Because there is no color but only white and gold.
This brilliant gold color has a strong impact surrounded by the white snow.
It is rare and lucky to see Kinkaku-ji with snow as it doesn’t snow very often in Kyoto.
This is with a bit of snow.
You can see Phoenix on the roof.
A little extra – Sekka-tei.
The picture above is Sekka-tei.
Sekka-tei is on the property of Rokuon-ji and is a teahouse built in the style of a tea-ceremony house by Souwa Kanamori, a tea master (sado master) in the Edo era.
As it was built on a slightly higher position, when you look at Kinkaku (Shariden, reliquary hall) in the twilight, it is very beautiful.
For this, it is named Sekka-tei (a evening beautiful arbor).
Postscript by the editor.
I hope you enjoy Kinkaku-ji in early summer, with autumn leaves and covered with snow seasons.
Kinkaku-ji shows different aspects in different season, so it is a joy to go there at different times.
I hope you will visit there one day.