Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Golden Pavilion

When visitors hit Osaka, a visit to nearby Kyoto is an absolute must! It has some of the most impressive Buddhist temples and shrines in Japan, most of which have been beautifully renovated. I learnt recently, during my visit to Hiroshima, that Kyoto was originally one of the intended targets for the atomic bomb and was therefore spared from bombing during World War II. The cities fortunate last minute reprieve allowed many of their architectural treasures to be conserved. Not surprisingly there are actually seventeen world heritage sites in Kyoto alone, attracting visitors from all around the world. One such place that we hadn’t visited before and were keen to show Dave and Cara, was the ‘Temple of the Golden Pavilion’. Despite the odd civil war and numerous fires since the thirteenth century, the buildings and gardens have remained lovingly preserved and demonstrate the beauty and simplicity of classic architectural and garden design. The centrepiece is of course The Golden Pavilion itself… a modest three storey wooden building sitting gracefully on the edge of a calm central lake that reflects a striking mirror image. While the ground level of the pavilion shows the traditional use of natural wood and white grid panels, the exterior walls of the upper two floors are completely covered with gold leaf. Although you might imagine the building to be quite opulent, it remains relatively simple in design and contrasts beautifully against the greenery of the surrounding garden. No doubt the scene would change with the seasons, but when we visited it was spring and with a hint of warmth in the air, it made our leisurely walk through the grounds a very tranquil and enjoyable experience.

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