Multiple Views of Kinkakuji

Kinkakuji - Kyoto, Japan

Kinkakuji – Kyoto, Japan

Kinkakuji, the “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”, may be the most iconic building in Japan. Officially called Rokuonji, it’s a Zen Buddhist temple located in Kyoto, Japan. I’ve been to Kyoto a number of times, over the years, but it’s been a while since I’ve visited Kinkakuji. It’s not conveniently located near a train station and requires an extra bus ride.

The original building dates back to 1397, but this one pictured is a reproduction, rebuilt in 1955. A mentally ill monk set fire to the original in 1950. It was rebuilt as closely to the original as possible. The structure has been renovated a few times since then and a new gold leaf layer was added in 1987.

Yes, yesterday’s post name Bonsai Like, featured a closeup photograph from here. One astute reader, Erik, correctly identified the location.

Kinkakuji - Kyoto, Japan
Kinkakuji - Kyoto, Japan

I conveniently had the Olympus PEN-F with the wide-angle 9-18mm and the OM-D E-M5 Mark II with a 14-150mm which made it easy to shoot at different focal lengths and from slightly different positions. But honestly, I didn’t make an image that really delighted me. I partially blame the light and the uninspiring weather, though I suppose these are just excuses.

Looking at the stock imagery of this place on the web, I noticed may of the same angles. Some had better clouds and more dramatic light, but they all look similar. That’s what I realized about Kinkakuji. While iconic, I found the photographic options less exciting than Fushimi Inari-taisha, which I visited earlier the same day.

Kinkakuji - Kyoto, Japan
Kinkakuji - Kyoto, Japan

Partially because of the uninspiring light and color but also because it’s something different, I prefer the black and white images. Of course, with a monochrome, you lose the most noted feature of Kinkakuji, its golden color. But photographically, I’ll take these over the color.

Kinkakuji - Kyoto, Japan
Kinkakuji - Kyoto, Japan

This is my favorite composition of Kinkakuji. It’s from a slightly different angle than what you typically see. Besides its different vantage point, it has the advantage of screening out tourists, which is increasingly difficult to do. But that’s a topic for tomorrow’s post.

Here’s a color and black and white version of the identical composition. Which do you prefer?


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9 thoughts on “Multiple Views of Kinkakuji

  1. At first I didn’t care for the monochrome versions, but after looking again I prefer them. The reflections in the water are really much more striking in monochrome. Everything takes on an architectural feeling.

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