Published: March 14, 2020
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By: Coral Reich, Cal Poly Pomona
Ginkaku-ji Temple was built during a time of turmoil and a time of the great development of Japanese fine art of the Higashiyama era. When Ashikaga Yoshimasa ascended the role of shogun in1449, he had difficulties with his people going through starvation and misery which he eventually gave up his position to his brother. After his wife bore a son, Ashikaga Yoshimasa and his brother fought over whose son would succeed as the next shogun which lead to the Onin War for 10 years and eventually his brother’s son was made the next heir. Ashikaga Yoshimasa had very little interest in the world of war and politics, which put his focus towards the arts. In his retirement, he built the Silver Pavilion to practices the art of tea ceremony and sponsored other types of artists as well. After his death, the site was converted to a Zen temple and other building were added onto the property over time.
The Silver Pavilion was an inspiration from his grandfather’s Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavilion, but he did some tweaks to the design in his style. The possible reason it is called the Silver Pavilion maybe the moonlight reflection on the black lacquer that used to be on the building. As for the garden, it is mostly a moss garden with a rock garden as well. The garden utilizes the style Wabi-Sabi, which is the appreciation of nature or anything while being with perfect forms as well. The style creates an ambiguous effect in the landscape by blending the buildings into the mountain and trees. The landscape also features ponds with islands, bridges, stream and various plants. The moonlight viewing mound may be a part of a later addition of the landscape since it has a more concreate geometric shape unlike the rest of the landscape