難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

The Way of the Philosopher

In the northeast of Kyoto is a historic site called Ginkakuji.  Now a Zen temple, it was built as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa in the 1490s, after the fashion of a similarly famous villa/temple owned by his grandfather Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.  Yoshimitsu’s pavilion was covered in gold leaf, and Ginkakuji was meant to have a similar finish in silver, but it was never completed.  The permanently unfinished building has come to be a great symbol of the medieval Japanese aesthetic of imperfection, spontaneity, and weathering, and it has been long decided that the building looks best incomplete in raw wood.

I never saw it in my Kyoto days because it was undergoing a major period of upkeep and was hidden behind scaffolding and sheets.  I thought it would take me many more years before I could see it…

The gardens around the pavilion provide many angles, and the building presents a different face in each one.

 

 

 

The abstracted Mt. Fuji free-formed out of sand has been considered an integral part of the temple since the 15th century.

 

Ginkakuji marks the northern end of a quiet lane known as the Philosopher’s Road that runs along the eastern edge of town, past many shrines, temples, and little cloisters.  Exploring it was another thing I had not done in my student days.

 

 

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2 responses

  1. lord kelvin

    The photographs really convey the sense of calm you must have felt as you walked along these ancient paths. It also appears that there is no other human in sight, only spirits…

    December 27, 2010 at 1:16 AM

  2. lord kelvin

    I absolutely love the abstract sand-Fuji. Its postmodern before there was any modern to be -post.

    January 7, 2011 at 9:28 AM

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