Common nickname of the Rokuonji, a buddhist temple in Kyoto. It refers to the golden Pavilion (kinkaku) which is the most famous building of the Temple. It is a 3-storied pagoda which is completely covered with gold leaf, twenty kilograms altogether. It stands next to a small lake, and the view of the pavilion across the lake and its reflection, in splendid weather, is probably what I will remember as the most beautiful thing I saw in my 1-year stay in Japan.

The Pavilion was built by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, 3rd shogun of the Muromachi era, in 1397 after he abdicated to devote his life to religion. After his death, it became a buddhist temple.

The pavilion we see today is actually a reconstruction, since the original one was destroyed on the 3rd of July 1950 by a fire which a mentally disturbed young buddhist monk had set off.

Kinkakuji was also a novel by Yukio Mishima, translated into English as The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. It is set during and immediately after World War II, and is about a stuttering boy who is obsessed with the beauty of the temple and goes to live there as a bonze in training, eventually goes insane, and burns the temple to the ground. One of Mishima's better novels, IMHO.

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