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Remains of 14th century building, Japanese garden found at Kyoto's Kinkakuji temple

This photo provided by the Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute shows the excavation site of the remains of a pond south of Kyokochi pond surrounding Kinkakuji temple, in the city of Kyoto's Kita Ward, taken on June 13, 2017.

KYOTO -- Foundation stones of a building believed to have been constructed in around the late 14th century have been found along with ruins of an unfinished Japanese garden on the grounds of the famous Kinkakuji temple in this city's Kita Ward.

The temple entrusted the Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute to excavate the remains of a pond, about 2,300 square meters in size, located south of the Kyokochi pond that stretches about 6,600 square meters wide in front of Kinkakuji, ahead of the planned development of the site. The excavation was conducted from June 2016 until August this year with the results announced Oct. 11.

"Kitayama Rokuonji ezu" (1790) is the only pictorial diagram known to have depicted the location as a pond. Several island-shaped remains filled with dirt were found as a result of the excavation. It was determined that a pond had been in the making, although none of the remains had mud deposits, which would indicate that it was once filled with water.

The time period that the old ruins are believed to have been built overlaps with when Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408), the third shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, became a priest and had a vacation home named Kitayamadono built. It is presumed that Yoshimitsu wanted to construct something larger than any buildings and ponds that existed at the time to project his power.

(Japanese original by Hajime Nakatsugawa, Kyoto Bureau)

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