Because of its world-famous golden pavilion, the Rokuon-ji Temple from Kyoto is known as Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. Together with the garden and the pond surrounding it, Kinkaku-ji is indeed one of the must see views of Kyoto. However, I heard many visitors wondering why the first floor of the pavilion was left unpainted. Here’s what I learned…
The pavilion features an ingenious architecture, each floor having a different style. The top floor is a Zen meditation hall, built in the Chinese chan style and the middle floor is a hall dedicated to Bodhisattva Kannon, built in the samurai residences Bukke style. The lower, unpainted floor is a secular space, designed for admiring the landscape and it is built in the Shinden style, typically used for the Heian Period mansions.
So the sacred upper floors, housing temple halls, are painted in gold, while the more worldly first floor looks like any other building… But another, simpler explanation is that the first floor is sometimes used for Noh plays and it would be unpractical to play on a slippery surface…
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Yesterday’s Japan Photo: