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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)


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October 06, 2005
Kyoto: The Gold Pavilion - Kinkaku
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

One of the most popular temples in Kyoto - indeed in the entire world - is Kinkaku, properly called Rokuon-ji temple. This site was originally developed around 1400 AD by a retired Shogun: Yoshimitsu. When he died the site was made into a Zen temple according to his will. The only original building that survives this period is Kinkaku and as you will see, it is most spectacular.

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A vast roadway serves as the entrance to this area. Policemen standing just outside its gate direct the foot trafiic into this place. I was stunned at the number of people here - it was a Disneyland sized crowd. Hundreds of cabs sat outside shuttling people to and from...

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There are some ancient lanterns near the entrance.

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The broad street continues toward the interior of the temple site.

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The roadway splits at this point - to the right is the 'exit' road from the temple. To the left is the entrance to Kinkaku.

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This is the entrance portal to the main temple site.

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Inside the temple is a small formal garden. (And that's the camera that's tilted - the building was quite square.)

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More of the formal garden.

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Small creches are housed within the garden area.

I wish there was a way to do a 'drum roll' and a reveal - you'll just see it below ...

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You come around the corner and there it is - Kinkaku. My first thought was - no wonder it's still standing - it's made of gold. It is gold leaf overlaid on wood and sealed with a special Japanese resin. After caretakers discovered cracks in the 500 year old resin, it was the subject of a major restoration project in the late 1980s.

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It's one of those places where the angle and the light can conspire to create unbelievable colors. You might not be able to tell - but I took these photos in a crowd of what seemed like hundreds of people - it was like some paparazzi scramble - the guards kept yelling at me about having my tripod - of course, it would have been hopeless to attempt to use it. I just repeatedly said "simasen" (excuse me) and shouldered my way to the front of the crowd (one of the few advantages to towering over most of the local population.)

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The commercialization of the site diminished my experience of it - it certainly wasn't a restful or contemplative moment - but, as you can see, it didn't keep me from burning up a bunch of exposures. I think I only took about 20 or so pictures of the place.

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The building, pond, plantings, sky - all conspire to meet that Zen ideal of things 'just so' ...

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Even, just the reflection is beautiful.

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The throngs drove me along past the building - and it is easily seen that the entire pond and backdrop have all been designed to frame and beautify the temple.

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The path quickly climbs a hill to another small pond where a small pagoda - dedicated to the 'white snake' appears.

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And just over the trees the Chinese Phoenix atop Kinkaku can be clearly seen.

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If you wish, you can climb around a good bit higher. Looking down on the 'white-snake' pond - I could see that fall colors were about to break out here.

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After a slight descent, another temple appears - this one houses a fire god deity - and folks were lined up here to ring the gongs and offer a prayer.

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That's him in front of the gold mirror. Pretty small for a fire god I thought.

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Then it's back down the hill to where the main road breaks into that left and right divide.

The Kinkaku - Gold Pavilion - has to be one of the most astounding ancient temple buildings to see anywhere. In 1994 it was inscribed as a World Cultural Heritage site.

I really did enjoy visiting and seeing this place. It just had a 'commercialized' sense about it that I found a little offputting. All of the other sites I visited carried a profound air of reverence about them - this place seemed more geared to entertaining the touristos.

Of course, if you make it to Kyoto, don't miss it. It's definitely worth the long ride to get there and perhaps on the day that you are there, the crowds will be small and you will hear the ancient chants spill across the water...



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People Pulling

Wow. That place is amazing! The second one of the gold temple is my favorite of this series. Gorgeous.
>^..^<

Posted by: jlb at Oct 6, 2005 3:27:19 PM

I agree. I love that gold temple picture.

EMCEE: Why thank you Mrs. Hapke. I guess I'm going to have to give that pic its own post...

Posted by: gail at Oct 7, 2005 7:09:21 PM

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