What is Ginkakuji?
Higashiyama Jishoji Temple, also known as Ginkakuji Temple, is a Rinzai Buddhist temple built in 1490 by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the 8th shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, and is registered as a World Heritage Site.
The Ginkakuji temple is well known for its Ginkaku-den (Silver Pavilion), which was built by Ashikaga Yoshimasa as a rival to the Rokuonji temple's Kinkaku-den (Golden Pavilion). However, while the gold leaf is pasted all over the Reliquary Hall (Golden Pavilion) at Rikaonji Temple, the Kannon Hall at Ginkakuji Temple is not pasted with silver leaf, nor is there any evidence of it being pasted, leaving the wood bare.
There are various theories as to the reason why the Ginkakuji temple was built as Ginkaku, but no silver leaf was not affixed to the temple, such as "the financial situation of the Muromachi Shogunate at that time was deteriorating considerably" and "Ashikaga Yoshimasa passed away before the Ginkakuji Kannon-den was completed and there was no need to affix the silver leaf to the temple.
At first glance, the Kannon Hall at the Ginkakuji Temple looks simple because of the bare wood, but it offers a simple beauty and a sense of apology and solitude. The temple's small but beautiful Japanese garden, the Ginkakuji Temple, and the Higashiyama Mountains in the background make you feel as if you've stepped into an ink painting.
The San-mon Gate of the Ginkakuji temple has a simple and quiet appearance. The tiled roof San-mon Gate serves as an entrance to the Ginkakuji Temple where we Japanese feel nostalgic about the world and the atmosphere of "Apology and loneliness".
Fence of the Ginkakuji Temple
After passing through the Ginkakuji temple gate, there is a 5 meter long approach to the central gate. This narrow path surrounded by bamboo fences is called the Ginkaku-ji Fence, and it connects the hustle and bustle of the outside world with the Pure Land world of the Ginkaku-ji compound.
The main hall of Ginkakuji Temple was built in the mid-Edo period. Shakyamuni Buddha is enshrined in the main hall of Ginkakuji, and inside the building are fusuma paintings by Yosa Buson and Ike Taiga, who were active in the Edo period.
Ginsanada and Megetsudai
In front of the Hojo Hall, the main hall, there is the Ginsanada, a striped, stepped-up white sand garden. The garden landscape, which is made entirely of white sand, creates a unique landscape that attracts visitors to the temple.
There is a 1.8-meter high sand mound near Yinsantan, known as the Mukongoldae. According to a popular belief, Ginsanada reflects the light of the moon and the Mukogetsudae was used as a base to sit on and watch the moon, but it is still a mystery as to whether or not these mounds of sand have been there since before the Muromachi period.
Tougudou, together with Kannonden, also known as Ginkaku, is a national treasure. It is open to the public twice a year, in spring and autumn, for a limited number of seasons.
In front of Tougudou is a beautiful garden. The tranquil water surface, deep green trees and seasonal flowers create an atmosphere reminiscent of the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Kannon Hall (Silver Pavilion)
Kannon-den (Goddess of Mercy) at Higashiyama Jishoji Temple, affectionately known as Ginkaku, is a national treasure. This building was supposed to be covered with silver leaf in the original plan when Ginkakuji was built, but it was never covered with silver leaf, and there are no traces of it being covered. However, Kannon-den, with its simple and unassuming appearance, creates a world view of the "Apocalypse" and is one of the highlights of the Ginkakuji Temple.
The Four Seasons at the Ginkakuji Temple
Kannon-den (Silver Pavilion) offers beautiful scenery in each season. In spring, the lush greenery of Higashiyama and the flowers blooming on the grounds create a gorgeous atmosphere.
In summer, Kannon-den (Silver Pavilion) is shrouded in deep green. The trees with deep green leaves, the quiet water surface and the atmosphere of "Apology and loneliness" are just like a picture scroll.
The beauty of the Silver Pavilion in late autumn is exceptional. The colorful trees that turned red like a burning flame accentuate the beauty of the Silver Pavilion.
When winter arrives, Kannon-den (Silver Pavilion) is covered with snow. The snow-covered Silver Pavilion creates a monotonous landscape like a monotone world, which makes us feel as if we have entered into a watercolor painting.
You will feel as if you are in a monotone world of black and white.
What did you think? The Ginkakuji Temple at Higashiyama Jishoji Temple has many more wonderful sights in addition to those listed here. Visit the World Heritage Site of Ginkakuji and immerse yourself in the world of apology and sabi-sabi, which is a favorite of the Japanese.
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