“A zen temple in a not so “zen” surrounding”- this briefly sums up my experience with Kinkakuji.
We were too confident believing that a trip to Kyoto in a chilly winter would help us to avoid the horror of having to sardine ourselves amidst throngs of eager tourists. This turns out to be a wishful thinking of our own and nothing else. I shivered at the thought of how the crowd would be like in the beautiful season of red Momiji.
I can’t deny the view is just simply magnificent. It’s unimaginable how anyone could fail to be intrigued and overwhelmed by this surreal gold structure, with only its reflection in the still calm pond being the only thing that has the audacity to compete for charm and attention.
The experience of viewing such gorgeous structure would have been more enjoyable if only there were less noise and fewer tourists that fought their way with aggressive manner to get to the right spots for photos and videos. All I could do was shrug and be thankful that despite the minor chaos, there were still gorgeous photos like this in my camera by the end of the day.
It is easy to miss out the details of the architecture with the gold leaf covering glistening in such a penetrating way under the soft rays of the December sunlight. The structure was a complicated combination of natural woods in palace buildings style of Heian Period at the ground floor, sliding doors resembling the Samurai residences at the first floor, and a Chinese Zen Hall with a golden phoenix standing at the top at the uppermost floor. Like the majority ancient structures in Japan, Kinkakuji too was not spared from the tragedies of being destroyed and burnt down numerous times. The last destruction occurred during an arson and suicide attempt by a mad monk in 1950.
My last stop at Kinkakuji was at the Japanese style toilet right outside the exit. I was bursting out from the cubicle within seconds without using it. The repugnant smell was enough to suffocate anyone with a right mind.