Ginkakujii or Ginkaku-ji is popularly known as the Silver Pavilion Temple. The temple is constructed in the early fifteen century. Ginkakuji is located in the city of Kyoto. Even though the name of the temple is Silver Pavilion don’t expect any silver in the temple during your visit. The grandfather of the founder of the temple had constructed the Golden Pavilion and was planning to cover the significant building with silver and thus the temple was known as the Silver Pavilion temple. The construction met a drastic twist. The construction was earlier expected to be a flamboyant structure but it became a wonderful display of Japanese restraint as well as refinement.
The Ginkakuji’s history initiates with the appointment of Ashikaga Yposhimasa to look after the construction of the retirement palace. In the year 1460 the construction of the palace was started and later speeded up in the year 1470. This era was considered as one the most critical era in the history of Kyoto. The war of Onin took place in 1467-1477. The battle left the city almost in ashes. The war was caused as Yoshimasa appointed his brother as the shogun of the city and later he tried to give his son the same position.
Yoshimasa was a good intellect but he failed in proper administration, he took his retirement from politics in the year 1474 and after that he fully concentrated on the construction of his huge palace. He wanted to pursue a good life in the Villa which consisted of a tea ceremony, moon gazing and also romance.
Ginkakuji Temple Kyoto
The shogun always intended to give a silver coat to the pavilion but was not successful at it. He later studied many houses that were constructed in the region. Yoshimasa later asked many Zen monks, who were his friends as well as his teachers to help him construct his retirement palace based on the principles of Zen. He lived six years of his life in the villa from 1484 up to 1490 when he died in the villa.
It was Yoshimasa’s wish that after his death the villa was to be transformed in to a Buddhist temple. This was a general practice during that era. This wish was fulfilled in year 1490 when he died. In the following years the Ashikaga family was declined by the time Ginkakuji with many other different buildings were neglected and eventually they got destroyed.
The buildings that are the part of the temple today were constructed in the middle of the 17th century. The outlook which Yoshimasa had during the construction of the original structure is closely shown in the designs of the structure. The original sand gardens are present even today. The structure that is created in the 16th century is dependable with the shogun’s inspirations and interests.
What to See
Today the structure of Ginkakuji is going through many renovations as well as restorations. The complete structure of the temple is enclosed in scaffolding. The work of restorations as well as renovations is expected to be completed by the year 2010.
The room at the front is known as Togu-do and is considered as the national treasure. It is also known as the East seeking Hall. It is believed that Ashikaga’s Shogun is still alive in this room. In this room a statue is erected it is believed that the statue is of Yoshimasa. The room at the back is known as Dojin-sai and commonly known as Comradely Abstinence. Indirectli it became an example for customary tea-ceremony quarters.
The Silver pavilion building has two floors. The exterior of the temple consists of wood. The designs of the pavilion are an excellent combination of the Japanese and the Chinese architecture. The Japanese architecture Muromachi which was developed from 1338-1573 is also used in the structure.
A gold statue of Kannon is located on the upper floor of the structure. It is considered that Kamakura a popular sculptor of that particular time had carved the statue. The statue is mostly closed for public’s visit. The temple also enshrines Jizo who is considered as Children’s God and guardian.
Gold Statue Of Kannon
The lovely Japanese gardens are part of the temple structure. The gardens are credited to the architect and artist named Soami. The gardens are divided into two different contrast sections but they combine at a point pleasantly.
The green garden is located at the first palace and is overlooked from the pavilion. This garden comprises of rock as well as plants. The plants are designed in such a way that it reflects a beautiful design from where ever you see them. In the second garden there are 2 mounds sculptures made out of sand. The taller mound stands for the holy Mt. Fuji. The mound shine in the moonlight and thus gets it name Sea of Silver Sand.
Kansai International Airport is located very near to the Silver pavilion temple. The nearest railway station is Sanjo. Further you can hire a taxi or rent a car and reach the temple. From the Sanjio station you can just hop in to various buses that will drop you at the Silver Pavilion temple.
When to go
The best time of the year to visit The Silver Pavilion temple is during the spring and the autumn seasons.
The pavilion is open to visit from Middle of March up to November from 8 am to 5 pm. Later from December up to early March it is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm.
Every visitor has to pay ¥500 to enter the pavilion.
Inside the Silver Pavilion photography is not permitted.