| Originally built in the Kamakura Period as an artistocrat's coutry estate, and taken possession of in 1397 by retired shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who turned it into a supremely refined and elegant country villa called Kitayama-dono (the Kitayama Palace), Rokuon-ji's birth as a Buddhist temple occured in 1422, when, following Yoshimitsu's death, it was converted into a Zen temple, with the monk Muso Soseki as its founding abbot. Whereas the temple later fell into decline, the Shariden (commnly known as Kinkaku or "Golden Pavilion") and temple gardens were largely restred during the Edo Period. The temple garden was designed to incorporate Mt. Kinugasayama as shakkei (borrowed scenery). In the course of creating the garden, various selected
rocks were installed in the existing pond; the Shariden was constructed
at the edge of the pond; and a viewpoint was set at the top of the mountain. The
Kinkaku, with its shingled roofs and with its second and third floors entirely
gilded with gold, epitomizes the so-called "Kitayama culture"
of the period, and reveals Yoshimitsu's dynastic aspirations. This building
was burned to the ground in 1950, and an exact reproduction of the original
building was completed in 1955.