The Appeal of the Ginkakuji
Beyond the main gate of Ginkakuji, proceeding further inside is the Kannon-den, also called the Silver Pavilion. This has been designated a national treasure; the Silver Pavilion is also a building that preserves the hallmarks of the culture of the Muromachi Period. It is said that the Muromachi period, in which Ginkakuji was built, was an age that blended the aristocratic culture of samurai warriors, monks and court nobles.Much of the well-known Japanese traditional culture that came to be cherished by many people these days, such as tea ceremony, Noh drama, flower arranging, etc., comes from this period. The Silver Pavilion is a two-storied structure.The lower level is the Shinkuden, or the Pavilion of the Empty Mind, in a domestic style; the upper level, called Cho-onkaku, or “Pavilion of the Sound of the Tide,” is in the style of a Buddhist temple. In front of that stretches a garden, a circuit-style strolling pond garden, also representative of this Higashiyama culture. Built in the center of the pond, the Kogetsudai, or “Moon-viewing Platform,” a mound made of sand; and the Ginshadan, or “Sea of Silver Sand,” are features. The Ginshadan, represented by waves of sand, with the sand in cylindrical rings around the mound of piled up sand, is said to have been built with the idea of the reflection of the moonlight in mind. Also in front of the Silver Pavilion extends a pond, Nishiki Kagami Ike, or“The Mirror of the Autumn Colors Pond,” designed so that the Silver Pavilion can be seen reflected on the water’s surface; it is an extremely beautiful scene.Even taking just a moment to look at this national treasure, the Silver Pavilion, and the garden in front of it, which has also been designated as a national spot of scenic beauty, one can likely feel the mind clearing.Also, within Ginkakuji’s temple grounds is Togudo Temple. Built as a jibutsudo, a special hall or room where a Buddha statue is kept, the Buddha Amitabha, the principal Buddha of the Pure Land Sect, was previously kept safe here. The Togudo Temple has also been designated a national treasure, and is a historical building representative of this period.
The Path from Ginkakuji to Nanzenji (Philosopher’s Path)
When coming to visit Ginkakuji, we’d also ask you, by all means, to visit “Philosophers’ Walk”. It’s called this after the philosophers who came here in the Meiji Era.Following the course of a small canal, surrounded by nature, the path is lined by cherry trees. The cherry blossoms blooming in spring, and the maple leaves turning red in the autumn make Philosophers’ Walk a very beautiful and popular walking route. On your next visit to Ginkakuji, by all means, lose yourself in your own thoughts on Philosophers’ Walk.