Notes on the Geography of Japan: Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji
These are the Golden and Silver Pavilions, built as private retreats but posthumously redesignated as Zen temples.
One of Kyoto's icons, the Golden Pavilion was built by the third Ashikaga Shogun--Yoshimitsu by name--a fully qualified member of a dynasty whose members would have judged Macbeth a pansy. Still, Yoshimitsu was an esthete, and he designed here the paradise promised by the Amida Buddha. It contains all the elements shown on mandalas: a paradise garden, an Amida Buddha, a treasure hall, a pond, a holy place under trees, a place for music, a place for saints, and a place for angels and holy animals. The hall was originally more modest, with only the ceiling of the top floor gilt; the gaudier format today dates from 1955. Originally, the pond was covered with lotus; now it's mostly surrounded by people.
The comparatively austere Silver Pavilion or Ginkakuji was built by Shogun Ashikaya Yoshimasa in 1479 but became a Rinzai Zen temple and monastery after his death. In near ruins by the 1890s, it has now been restored to a perhaps excessive degree of perfection. Still, its self-effacement seems philosophically truer to Zen Buddhism than does its now-flashy mate, Kinkakuji.
"Perhaps excessive degree of perfection"? How about the entrance with these camellia hedges--as rigid as Versailles.
You can see the line of the hedges behind that white signboard. In the left-center, the Silver Pavilion, behind the Brocade Mirror Pond. On the right, the Togu-do or East Seeking Hall, a temple for the Amida Buddha; in front of it, the Ginshandan (Sea of Silver Sand) garden. Walkways rise up the slope from which this picture was taken.
Walkway around the pond.
Path up the hill.
Steps and bamboo railings.
Just in case you weren't feeling sufficiently controlled!
The use of bamboo is extraordinary, beautiful, and perhaps a tad compulsive.
Hard to beat for purity of form and simplicity of materials.
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