- ★★★ ミシュラングリーンガイド 三ツ星
In 1224 (the first year of the Gennin era), during the Kamakura Period, Kintsune Saioniji established the Saion-ji Temple, while at the same time managing his mountain villa "Kitayama-tei" on this site. Just after the downfall of the Kamakura Shogunate, Kimmune Saioniji, the head of the family at the time, was executed after he was accused of plotting to invite Emperor Godaigo to Saion-ji Temple to assassinate him, and the Saionji family's extensive territory and assets were confiscated. For this reason, Saion-ji Temple gradually fell into disrepair and became dilapidated.
In 1397 (the fourth year of the Ouei Era), Yoshimitsu Ashikaga came into possession of Saion-ji Temple after exchanging it for his territory in the province of Kawachi, and completely restored it by repairing existing structures and building new ones. At this time, Yoshimitsu’s Kitayama mountain villa “Kitayama-dono” (alternatively known as “Kitayama-tei”) served as a political center, and was of a scale to rival that of an imperial palace. Yoshimitsu gave up his title of Sei-i Taishogun in favor of his son Yoshimochi Ashikaga, but did not release his grip on power and continued to maintain authority from Kitayama-dono.
Following the death of Yoshimitsu, Yoshimochi intended to disassemble Kiyatama-dono and leave only the Shariden intact, but as requested in Yoshimitsu’s will, the site was converted into a Zen temple and named Rokuon-ji Temple, after Yoshimitsu’s posthumous Buddhist name Rokuon-in. Muso Soseki was posthumously declared as the kaisan (temple founder) in name only.
During the Onin War, the site served as a camp for the western army, and many of its structures were destroyed by fire.
The Kinkaku of Rokuon-ji Temple had formerly been designated a national treasure since before the war, but in 1950 the pavilion was burned down in an act of arson committed by a monk named Yoken Hayashi. The building was completely destroyed, along with the precious portrait of Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. The Chinese phoenix that adorned the roof had been removed prior to the blaze and has been preserved. These events are at the center of Yukio Mishima’s novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion and Tsutomu Mizukami’s novels Goban-cho Yugiriro and Kinkaku enjo (The Burning of the Kinkaku-ji Temple).
The present Kinkaku structure dates from 1955 (the 30th year of the Showa era) when it was rebuilt based on the original, and in 1987 (the 62nd year of the Showa era) the job of re-covering the gold leaf was completed.
The second and third floor of the Kinkaku have pure gold leaf covering the Japanese lacquer, the roof is thatched with shingles of wood similar to cypress, and on top of the roof shines the Chinese phoenix. The first floor, "Hosui-in" (Dharma Water Room), is made in the aristocratic style. The second floor, "Cho-on-do" (Tide Sound Cave) is made in the warrior style. The third floor, "Kukkyo-cho" (Supreme Pursuit Summit) uses the Chinese Zen Buddhist style. These three different styles are beautifully blended together in this building representative of the Muromachi period.
Michelin Green Guide
Kinkaku-ji has a three star rating.
- Other Names
- 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, 603-8361
- Formal Name
- Sangou (Mountain Name)
- Rinzai sect, Shōkoku-ji school
- Kannon Bosatsu (Avalokiteśvara)
- Date Founded
- 1397 (the fourth year of the Ouei Era)
- Founding Patron
- Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, Muso Soseki (Kaisan)
- Cultural Properties
Color on silk portrait of Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, Color on silk image of Bodhidharma, Daishoin wall paintings and others (Important Cultural Properties)
Garden (Special Place of Scenic Beauty and Historic Site)
Adults and High School Students: 400 yen
Elementary and Middle School Students: 300 yen
Available (150 spaces, fee required, 300 yen for first 60 minutes, 150 yen per 30 minutes afterward [Parking hours are 8:40～17:10])
- Access Guide
- Official Website