Ginkaku-ji (actually called Jisho-ji) is considered by some to be an unequaled masterpiece of garden design. Within its walls the tea ceremony, Noh, flower arrangement and ink painting found new levels of refinement. It is considered to be one of Kyoto’s premier sites.
The temple was originally the mountain retreat of shogun Yoshimasa (1358-1408), who is remembered for an artistic renaissance now referred to as Higashiyama culture. In 1482, Yoshimasa desired a place to retire away from the turmoil of the civil war and so he constructed a villa a the foot of Kyoto’s eastern mountains.
In tribute to his father, who covered Kinkaku-ji in gold leaf, Yoshimasa intended to finish his in silver. However, the ruinous Onin War thwarted his ambition and the silver coating was never realised.
After Yoshimasa’s death the villa was converted into a temple. Today, walkways lead through the sumptuous gardens, past zen gardens, tall pines, a mysterious moss garden and a serene pond. A large cone of meticulously raked white sand, said to be symbolic of a mountain and lake, stands close to the temple.
- DK Eyewitness Japan
- Lonely Planet Japan
- Wanderlust Pocket Guides: Best of Japan