Kinkakuji (金閣寺), or Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is one of the must see places in Kyoto. Most of the temple is covered in gold leaf, and it’s set next to pond and therefore extremely photogenic.
Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. There is another temple called Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), built by Yoshimitsu’s grandson, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, and this one was supposed to be covered in silver foil but sadly is not.
Kinkakuji is majestic when viewed across a pond called Kyōko-chi (鏡湖池) or Mirror Pond, because the gold is reflected back from the water surface. It is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites.
Unfortunately what we see is a reconstruction. A 22-year-old novice monk, Hayashi Yoken, burnt it in 1950, and then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. Yukio Mishima wrote a novel about the events, appropriately called The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. It was rebuilt in 1955. Even before then, it had been burnt and rebuilt many times. It certainly looks shiny and ageless.
There is a strolling garden next to the house. Apparently as you walk through this garden, the landscape and plants evoke famous places in Japanese and Chinese literature, and the layout is according to the descriptions of the Western Paradise of the Buddha Amida, evoking the harmony between heaven and earth.
Shibuya is a major commercial and retail hub, but also famous for 3 things: Shibuya crossing (the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing), Hachiko the loyal dog, and Shibuya 109 (a fashion mecca for young girls).
Kamakura is a small town popular with tourists because of attractions such as the Hasedera temple located on a hill with great views of the town, the Great Buddha bronze statue and other temples and shrines.
We discovered the Sasuke Inari Shrine by accident while walking around in Kamakura. A set of bright red torii gates lead up a hill into a shrine full of statues of foxes and fox dwellings with families.
Huis Ten Bosch is a gigantic theme park in Sasebo (near Nagasaki) that is intended to be a mini version of Netherlands, including famous buildings such as the Huis Ten Bosch palace, Stadhuis and the Domtoren.
Kurashiki has a preserved canal area that dates back to the Edo Period, when the city served as an important rice distribution center. In fact, “Kurashiki” roughly translates to “town of storehouses” in reference to the rice storehouses.
Chris Tham is a co-founder of Visual Voyager Pty Ltd, the Principal Voigtländer Ambassador for Mainline Photographics and a Workshop Instructor for Mainline Photo Academy.
She brings over 35 years of experience as a photographer to her role, starting with a Yashica rangefinder belonging to her dad, joining the Photography Club in school, and developing her own photos.
More recently, Chris has been taking photos during her travels, and as a result has experienced some of the most interesting places in the world.
Chris focuses on nature, street, and urban architecture subjects in her photography.