While in Kyoto, Japan we visited the Golden Pavilion. It was very beautiful and the entire grounds for the temple were very serene. I couldn’t tell you if it was the time of day or the calm atmosphere that the area emanated that made this very popular tourist spot as serene as it was. The cold coating on the outer wall of the top two floors reminded me of the top of the Iowa State Capitol building. (There is not information about how many baseballs all the paint adds up unfortunately.) The gold walls were more yellow than the dome of the capitol.
The Pavilion’s official title is currently Kinkaku-ji which has the word gold in it. I believe it is the “kin” part as the grandson of the Shogun who built the pavilion built a similar building called the Ginkaku-ji which means silver pavilion. The temple used to be named Rokuon-ji which means Deer Garden Temple. Before it was ever a temple, however, it was home to the Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and was used as a retirement villa. I was according to this death wish that the villa be used as a Zen Buddhist Temple.
The Golden Pavilion has burned down a few times since it was constructed in 1397. It burned down during a civil war that destroyed a lot of Japan. Most recently it was burned down by a monk apprentice in 1955. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. It was later they found he had a mental illness. Our guide informed us that the Priest who over saw the monk, travelled through Japan apologizing for the monk’s actions. Part of this venture was to also raise money to rebuild. They managed to find the money to rebuild the Pavilion but since it was post WWII in Japan, they didn’t have enough money to add the kind of gold that is required for durability. The gold began to chip away and later when enough money was put together they repainted over the original layer of paint. This is one of only a few things that makes the building not authentic to the original building.