Kinkaku-ji was built was built to echo the extravagant Kitayama culture that developed in the wealthy aristocratic circles of Kyoto during Yoshimitsu’s times. Each of the three floors has a different architectural style. The first floor, known as the Chamber of Dharma Waters, was built in the shindenzukuri style, which was previously used in the 11th century to build the residences of the imperial aristocracy.
With its natural wood pillars and white walls, this is the only floor in the temple that has not undergone gold leaf gilding. This floor houses statues of the Shaka Buddha and Yoshimitsu, which can only be viewed from the front window, which is left open for this purpose.
The second floor is known as the Tower of Sound Waves and was built in buke-zukuri style, used to build samurai residences. Its exterior is completely covered in gold leaf gilding and it houses the statue of Kannon Bodhisattva, an important icon of Buddhism.
The third floor is also covered in gold leaf gilding and was used to host private events, such as meetings and tea cerimonies. A golden phoenix rests on the roof.
The Golden Pavilion is situated in a magnificent garden and reflects its image in a pond known as the Mirror Pond. The grounds were built according to Buddha’s description of the Western Paradise.
The application scope of gold leaf, from art to interior design, is very wide, thereby confirming to be one of the most versatile products of our time.