Kinkaku-ji – The Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Japan

The Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan, is an awe-inspiring ode to the spirituality of the Japanese way of life.

Guided by the lovely Nara blogger friend stardust (Yoko), we were standing at our final destination of Japan – the grounds of the Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden pavilion – one of the most sought after places to visit when in Kyoto.

We stood in awe, watching the patch of gold shimmer brightly in the afternoon sun. There was a positive aura emanating from the ancient structure. It felt like we had approached a tremendous power radiating furnace.

Listed among one of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites today, the original structure of Kinkaku-ji dates back to the Kamakura period (1185 – 1332) when it was known as the Rokuon-ji Temple. Explaining the history behind the temple, Yoko said that the building had seen many changes over the centuries. There was a time when the structure stood as a recreational villa in 1397 and then went on to become a Zen Buddhist temple in 1422 only to be later burnt down by a fanatic monk in 1950.

However creepy some of these stories may sound, today, the 3 storied temple building of Golden pavilion remains as a proud history of Kyoto.

As we made our way past the touristy crowd, we saw it. A few meters in the distance, like a blooming lotus in a pond, stood one of the most magnificent structures I had ever seen. The temple seemed to exude an unusual air of propriety; in the background, I could see the mountains standing guard as shoguns, military chiefs overlooking a thick cluster of foliage. The enchanting beauty of the Golden pavilion and its beautiful setting left us spellbound. Words can’t do justice to its splendour. It was ethereal.

From the tourist viewing square area in the temple courtyard, we saw and savoured this golden beauty framed delicately under the vast blue skies from different angles possible. “Can you see the Buddha inside?” asked Yoko, turning our attention towards the ground floor.

Through the window which lay open, I caught a rare glimpse of the Buddha meditating inside the dimly lit hall. Perhaps, this is where the aura was coming from, I thought. The first and the second floors were closed but there was one more thing to watch out for and that was the top of the temple. Here, rested a golden figure of “Ho-o”, a mythical Chinese phoenix.

Leaving the area, we now started walking through a trail skirting the pavilion and I found myself in a world that turned out to be as fantastic and mesmerizing as what I had just seen. Strewn all along the path were typical Japanese styled Hojo buildings, silent ponds, a dribbling waterfall, prayerful coin statue, restful tea rooms, and vivid souvenir shops.

As we weaved our way through the courtyard, I realized that this place was not about golden beauty alone. It was equally of the other elements present there, all of which had blended together beautifully to contribute in the overall charm and nostalgic appeal of the temple. There was something so infectious about this place, its modest nature and its mystical entice was palpable even in the environs.

As the clock wound its way towards evening, there was no time left for anything more to see and we left for Kyoto station. An entire day had flown by, and the time was finally upon us to bid Kyoto and Yoko a hearty goodbye.

That evening, as I sat staring out of my Shinkansen window, I found the warmth of the evening sun a little more appealing than usual. In it, I could see reflections: my treasures, my very own sweet little bundle of sunshine; memories – a priceless gift – to cherish for a life time.

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