(金閣寺 literally Temple of the Golden Pavilion)
or formally Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺 Deer Garden Temple)
Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺 literally Temple of the Golden Pavilion), or formally Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺 Deer Garden Temple) is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the construction that represents the Kitayama Culture of Muromachi period.
The original Kinkaku-ji was built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, as part of his estate then known as Kitayama. It was his son, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi, who converted the building into a Zen temple of the Rinzai school.
The temple was burned down twice during the Ōnin War.
On July 2, 1950, at 2:30 am, the pavilion was burned down by a monk named Hayashi Yoken, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. He survived, and was subsequently taken into custody. During the investigation after the monk's arrest, his mother was called in to talk with the police; on her way home, she committed suicide by jumping from her train into a river valley. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released because of mental illness on September 29, 1955; he died of other illnesses shortly after in 1956. During the fire, the original statue of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was lost to the flames (now restored). A fictionalized version of these events is at the center of Yukio Mishima's 1956 book The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
The present structure dates from 1955. In 1984, the coating of Japanese lacquer was found a little decayed, and a new coating as well as gilding with gold-leaf, much thicker than the original coatings (5/10,000mm instead of 1/10,000mm), was completed in 1987. Additionally, the interior of the building, including the paintings and Yoshimitsu's statue, were also restored. Finally, the roof was restored in 2003.
The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku, is a three-story building on the grounds of the Rokuon-ji temple complex. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha (Buddha's Ashes). The top floor is built in traditional Chinese cha'an style, also known as zenshu-butsuden-zukuri; and the middle floor in the style of warrior aristocrats, or buke-zukuri. The ground floor is rendered in shinden-zukuri style, reminiscent of the residential style of the Heian imperial aristocracy. The building is often linked or contrasted with Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion Temple), and Shōkoku-ji, which are also located in Kyoto.
The Golden Pavilion is set in a magnificent Japanese strolling garden (kaiyū-shiki). The pond in front of it is called Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond). There are many islands and stones on the pond that represent the Buddhist creation story.