Need Sunglasses For This Zen Temple

This is Kinkaku-ji.  This is a must-see when one visits Kyoto, otherwise it’s like visiting a Haagen-Daz parlour and ordering only the wafer and not the ice-cream.

This is a Zen temple (zen means meditative state), and I was totally zen-ed by this gold-leaf covered building.  I mean, who wouldn’t be “meditative” when you see a whole glittering piece of monument in front of you.

Kinkaku-ji’s English name is “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”

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Like most well-known temples or castles, Kinkaku-ji has been burnt to the ground before, not once, but a few times.  This present Kinkaku-ji was re-built after the 1950 arson case by a novice monk.

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I walked closer to the pavilion to get a better look at the glittering gold.  Only 2nd & 3rd floor are covered with gold, not the entire building.  But that’s still a lot of gold.  As I was walking closer to the gold, I could almost emphatise with Hansel and Gretel for peeling the food off the bread and sweet cottage.  I wanted to peel the gold too.  But not to stuff in my mouth, but stuff into my pocket.  Last I checked, gold is still hovering at US$1,200 per ounce.

While the golden pavilion is obviously the Main Actor, the garden is an equally respectable Supporting Actor.  It is a beautiful Japanese garden, rich with foliage.  Some of the trees were already responding to the arrival of autumn.

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The pond, the islets, the rocks, the trees are created and located purposefully.  There is no accident in the way they are placed or grown.  Almost every significant item has a meaningful representation that touched on enhancing the vision of the pavilion, re-playing of Chinese and Japanese literature, and paying respect to Buddhist philosophies.

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This is a 600+ year old pine tree.  Bamboo scaffolds support the heavy pine trunk that had grown sideways, instead of upright.  600 years old!  That’s old.  And this tree could have earned a spot in history books.  Its birth is about the same time as Parameswara founded Malacca (in Malaysia).

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The garden is a well-designed strolling ground.  Because it is also a big garden, and if you keep your eyes peeled to other non-gold looking stuff, you’d see a lot of other interesting garden inhabitants.  Like this roof that grew mushrooms.  They looked like the mushrooms I find in some miso soups.

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On another side of the garden, there is a smaller pond.  There is a knoll, and right in the middle of the knoll is a granite-looking small pagoda.  It has an interesting name: White Snake Pagoda.  I couldn’t get any one to explain to me why the name White Snake.  Was a white snake imprisoned in there yonks ago?  Was a white snake buried in this knoll?  Anyway, I researched this piece of granite.  I’m not going to be encyclopaedic here, but legend has a juicy story behind the name, and it’s linked to jealousy.  Ok that’s about all that I will reveal 😉

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