Ginkaku-ji

(銀閣寺)
#ginkakuji #silverpavilion #higashiyama

Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion(銀閣寺)

I took Raku Bus no. 100 at Kiyomizu michi bus stop. Today ‘s destination was the Silver Temple. During the pleasant ride, I felt happy to see the blue sky. I got off at the last bus stop. I walked back until I reached a bridge before the hill. The Philosopher’s Walk starts from here, and continues along a stream.


The long fence 

I crossed the bridge and went up to the end of the slope. Souvenir shops were still closed and the atmosphere around was quiet. I arrived too early. I knew that the temple opens at 9:00, but I couldn’t wait to leave my house. And I wanted to be the first visitor who enters the temple. I stayed outside the closed gate watching a gardener doing his job. I envied him, because cleaning the precincts of such notable place in Kyoto should be an honour! Probably he noticed my gaze and with a smile said to me “Good morning! “. I was a bit confused but I replied in Japanese “Ohayo gozaimasu!”.
My hands became very cold. How long should I wait? Finally at 9:.00 o’ clock the gate opened, my camera was ready. My steps were longer and faster than usual. I walked though the approach with high hedges made of stones, bamboo and camellias. It is 50 meters long and it is a sharp prelude to one of Kyoto’ s World Heritage Site.


The Ginshaden garden, the Sea of silver sand, Hondo, Main Hall and Togu-do

I got the ticket, passed the first little garden. On the right side there is a small doorway. This doorway opens directly to the Silver Temple. I was the first visitor. I looked at the building and I could not believe what I saw. The Silver Temple was…silver!!
I got excited, and I could not take pictures. The Pavilion was covered with frost fallen during the night. The plants, stones and the sand ‘s cone too were under a veil of frost. Astonishment and commotion brought me happy tears.

Kogetsu-dai, moon view platform. It reminds Mount Fuji


The firsts sun rays shining on the roof

The firsts sun rays shining on the roof

I visited the Silver Temple many times over the years, but today was the first time to see the dark brown roof shining in silver colour. This is how had to be, how the project was planned hundreds of years ago! The sun started to shine above the hills, and I could see sparkle on the roof. The frost brought a magical touch to this place, which is already special.
I took a deep breath, rubbed my cold hands and started my “click”.


Following the route through the garden 

Despite its name Ginkakuji, Silver Temple, has never been covered with silver foil as planned. The Silver Temple was established in1482 by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eighth Muromachi Shogun. His grandfather was the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu who created the perfect retreat of Golden Temple in Kitayama area. Golden Temple is famous for its coating of gold leaf.
Yoshimasa built this villa as a place where he spent his retired life and enjoyed the arts. The villa became a cultural and aesthetic centre. Painters and artists were supported by the Shogun. The art of tea ceremony was emphasized. In the Tokudo building there is the original tea ceremony room used by Yoshimasa of 4.5 tatami mats, which became the standard size of a tea house. Yoshimasa and his followers enjoyed banquets, moon viewing, flower viewing, incense parties, tea, poetry, while a distant world outside was still suffering of wars. Probably it is not a case that the main building of the complex is facing the hills and showing the back to the city and its torments. Originally there were more buildings and the land was a vast property. Today remain only three buildings and part of the garden.


The view of Ginkaku-ji complex and the city

The Silver Temple and its magnificent garden are a rare example of how the human spirit melts with the existent nature, and how to keep the natural feeling in the garden’s realization. The sand cone reflects the full moon. The sand garden with wavy patterns, which means the flowing of water, also glitters in the moon light. The garden looks like a green carpet made of moss. Fresh bamboo is used to make fences. The sound of water walks with you. The ponds reflect the buildings. I can imagine what Yoshimasa meant. I followed the route and stopped at the highest place of the garden, following the obligatory route. It is a nice spot to watch Ginkaku-ji and the garden below, the city and the distant snowy (today) mountains.

Clear water flowing in the garden

The garden


Ginkaku-ji reflected into the pond

Ginkaku-ji was turned into a Buddhist temple after Yoshimasa’s death. It is not possible to enter the buildings. But please believe me, this place is a gem of architecture. Its sophisticated but simple sense still persists. Even though it does not have a coating of silver leaf!

The silver frost disappearing with the sunrays, but not its splendor!