The Construction of Kinkaku-ji: The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto

Architecture, buildings, living spaces. These are things that are common throughout all of human civilization. Whether it is a sprawling farm house with a craftsman door, or a well thought out machiya with sliding screens, a home is a home and that is a beautiful thing. However, some are just frankly more beautiful than others.

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, named Kinkaku-ji is found in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most beautiful and popular tourist attractions in the country, drawing millions to see its stunning architecture and artistic landscape. The temple has an interesting and ancient history, dating to the 1300s. A statesman named Saionji Kintsune built it for his private use. In 1397, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu purchased the building; and at his death in 1408, his son converted it into a Zen temple. From that time forward, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion has been a dearly-loved feature of Kyoto. The rebuilding projects and design of Kinkaku-ji are instructive.

1. Rebuilding

The pavilion and other small buildings have burnt down and been rebuilt two notable times. The Onin War, which lasted from 1467 to 1477, left most of the complex burnt to the ground. Luckily, both the pavilion and the gardens were spared. The minor buildings were rebuilt, and the temple was restored to its magnificence.

In 1950, however, a monk named Hayashi Yoken burnt down the pavilion in a failed suicide attempt. He was arrested for the damage and, following his trial, received a seven-year prison sentence. However, Yoken was released after only five years when his mental illness was determined to be the cause of his attempted suicide. In 1955, the most recent reconstruction project was completed and, other than a couple restoration projects that keep the building in good repair, it stands as it was rebuilt in that year.

2. Design

Each of the three pavilion floors has a unique meaning and style. They work to complement each other and create a new, distinctive design. Few buildings in the world show such separate architectural designs in parts of one building, but it has been done masterfully in Kinkaku-ji. The three styles are:

  • Shinden- The first floor uses the shinden style. The floor is named The Chamber of Dharma Waters. It reminds visitors of the eleventh century palaces, with unpainted wood and open space. White plaster takes emphasis away from the building itself and magnifies the natural beauty of the landscape and gardens. The walls on this level are mainly shutters that open to bring in light and a magnificent view.
  • Samurai- The second floor is named The Tower of Sound Waves. It is styled reminiscent of the samurais, who were aristocratic warriors. The sliding doors are intended to suggest a temporary home. On the same floor, the temple houses a shrine to Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
  • Zen- The top floor is named the Cupola of the Ultimate. It is filled with gilded gold, representing the beauty of death. Gold was meant to purify the mind to free it of the negative connotations naturally associated with death.

Gardens

Surrounding this magnificent building are beautiful gardens. The entire building is reflected in a pond named Kyoko-chi, the translation being Mirror Pond. The pond is adequately named, because its glassy surface reflects the building with pristine crispness. The gardens are landscaped with meaning, directing the mind to harmony and peace between life and death. The placement of rocks and other structures point to major features of Japanese and Chinese literature, such as four stones in a pond that represent sailboats from the Chinese mythology about boats headed to the Isle of Eternal Life.

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4 Key Facts About Credit Card Signup Bonuses

If you are anything like me you get inundated by credit card offers everyday. Be it in the mail, on TV, on flashy billboards, text messages. They are just everywhere. To sweeten the deal further, most card companies dangle a credit card signup bonus to win you over. They can range anywhere from 10,000 points to a whooping 50,000 points, enough for a local or even international flight. So, today, let us separate the facts from the fluff. Before you put pen to paper on your next card with a signup bonus tied in, read through this. It might save you a tonne of headache in the long run.

1) The Bonus Ain’t Free

There are strings attached to the bonus points. On many cards this will include a minimum amount you need to spend on the card to qualify for the bonus. Most times, the spending minimum is time bound, say, spend $3000 in a month or two to qualify for the bonus. The credit card companies are in the business of earning interest for their money. The bonus is a way to woo you over to them. They understand that having your business in the long run will more than make up for the bonus in most cases.

2) Too Many Too Soon, Your Credit Score Tanks

Even with lucrative signup bonuses, these are still credit cards. When you open too many credit accounts to get the bonuses, you trigger credit checks on your credit history. Too many of these close together sends the wrong kind of message. For you it may be that you want to accumulate points fast through bonuses. Credit companies see you in trouble, in a debt hole, and flag you as a risk. Your credit score gets downgraded.

3) Debt Ruins The Credit Card Signup Bonus Fun

Pay your debts first if you want to get a credit card with a signup bonus. Why? As already pointed out, credit cards with signup bonuses have an “eligibility criteria.” Plainly put, you have to do something to earn the bonus miles, such as hit a spending minimum within a specified period, or do something else thats approved for the card you are signing up for. If you have debt, you might end up sinking into more debt as you try to hit spending minimums. Its best to clear your debts first and then consider the bonus credit card offer.

4) Thou Shall Pay Annual Fees

Most of the top signup bonus credit cards have annual fees attached to them. However, sometimes the fees are waived for the first year you signup for the card. In fact, you can get a waiver of the annual fees for some additional time if you politely request it. At the end of the day, banks and card companies want your business in the long run. They are willing to cede ground in the short-run to win it, so take advantage of that.

Conclusion

Credit card sign up bonuses compound your chances of accumulating airline miles and points fast. You don’t have to wait years to qualify for a single domestic flight. With the bonus you can get your first taste of free flights and upgrades. However, get you facts straight before you signup. Understand that the bonus isn’t free and that getting too many cards too fast will affect your credit score. Be smart about signing up for these cards. Plan accordingly and you will be glad you did it especially when you take to the skies on your first “free flight”.

Have you gotten a credit card with a signup bonus of late? What other advice would you give to someone considering signing up? Please, share in the comments below.

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Weekly Roundup – 4 Main Challenges Facing Airline Industry

Airline industry faces many challenges that handcuff its daily operations. Insecurity, fuel cost, staff shortage are among the main challenges facing this industry. I hereby share with just a few main challenges.

Escalating Oil Prices

High oil prices is reflecting in airline tickets thus passengers tend to balk at high airfares affecting the profit of airlines. This can lower level of operation, merging different airline companies to one or leading to closure of some airlines.

Stiff Competition

Airlines compete in airfares, frequency and efficiency, customer service, passengers amenities, frequent flyer miles and cargo services. Airfare reduction due to competition affects revenue generating and level of operation thus a huge challenge to airline industry.

Security

Security is one of the main challenges facing airline industry. It has been a challenge to keep passengers safe in airports and while flying. September 11 attacks hijackers managed to pass through all checkpoints, boarded airplanes unnoticed. Such incidences shows air security is still a challenge to this industry.

Availability of Best Cabin Crew

It has been difficult to find and train up pilots by many airlines. Those already in industry are old and retiring causing real headache to management.

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Insuring Against Travel Headaches

Last-minute airline delays, canceled hotel reservations or even natural occurrences like tropical storms can ruin your vacation. Taking steps to identify any potential problems beforehand can help you plan a foolproof vacation that won’t end up leaving you sitting at the airport. From travel insurance to planning what to pack, planning and research can help you have the vacation you have been dreaming of.

Getting travel insurance is one of the most effective ways to protect the investment of airline tickets, hotel reservations and other expenses that you need to pay up front. You can purchase travel insurance from your local Greensboro NC travel agency if you are planning a trip. You should also check your personal health insurance policy to determine whether illnesses or injuries are covered if you plan on traveling internationally. Some health insurance plans won’t cover hospitalizations and other costs that are incurred overseas. Purchasing additional health insurance is a wise idea, especially if you are planning on visiting a foreign country for an extended period of time.

Your destination is a big consideration when you are planning a vacation. Researching the weather in the area you are visiting will let you know what to expect and whether there may be a delay in your plans. For instance, hurricane season lasts from June until the end of November and can cause flight delays and other problems when you are vacationing in the tropical regions of the Atlantic. If you are visiting an international destination, you will need to know the average temperature so that you can pack accordingly. A light sweater and a hat are necessities that can keep you warm in regions where nights or summers are cooler than you expect.

Along with a sweater, you will also need to bring along some basics from home. Medical information, a copy of your passport and a copy of your itinerary are all must-haves on vacation. You will also need to make arrangements for home and pet care while you are away. A house sitter is the best plan if you will be gone for more than a few days since the service includes watering plants and caring for animals. You can also arrange to have your walk shoveled as needed and have your newspapers and mail picked up. These services will make your home look occupied and help deter potential break-ins while you are on vacation.

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Travel Blogger Interview – OurOyster

They believe that the biggest obstacles to travel are fear and the “I’ll do it later” attitude. Today’s interview is from Jade of OurOyster.com who travel with her family; Daniel, husband, and Jacob, son. You can also follow them on twitter, facebook and Google plus.

First of all tell everyone a basic background of who you are…

The OurOyster team consists of couple Daniel and Jade and of course their young son Jacob. The site was originally started by Jade after five years of travel when she moved to New Zealand. After a year in New Zealand she moved to Australia where she met Daniel and they got married. Now they travel and blog together.

How did you get into traveling?

My first international trip was when I was 17 to the Dominican Republic. But I didn’t catch the travel bug until I moved to Europe when I was 20. I ended up spending over three years in Europe before briefly going back home to Canada before setting off to New Zealand.

Of all the places you traveled to, what was your favorite?

Daniel and I recently spent five months traveling around the world with our baby. Our favourite place, and my all time highlight was Iceland. It is just one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We were there in winter, so it was quite cold and many of the roads were closed, but despite that we still got to experience some truly breathtaking scenery.

What is one place that you regret going to?

I don’t really have any particular travel regrets, although I did have some pretty bad timing when I visited Fiji. I ended up being there right in time for a major tropical cyclone and ended up getting trapped with no water or power and dwindling food supplies while roads were rebuilt and airplanes started returning.

What places are still on your bucket list?

Russia and Mongolia are huge on my bucket list, as well as most of South America. In the near future we are hoping to cross some more Pacific Islands off our list, and Vanuatu will be one of those highlights.

I noticed you mention budget travel on your about page. What are the most effective ways you limit costs when traveling?

We try to limit our costs by staying in budget accommodation. We are usually out and about exploring all day so we don’t need a fancy hotel or anything like that to enjoy ourselves. My only requirement is wifi though!

Are there any budget travel strategies that you tried but decided weren’t for you?

I know a lot of people will self cater for almost the entire period of their trip to save money and that just isn’t for me. Experiencing the local food is one of the biggest pleasures of travel for me, and I like to eat out at least once a day while travelling.

Does Australia have decent airline miles credit cards to take advantage of?

To be honest… not really. I am Canadian so I know that there are tons of options out there for Canadians and Americans, but there really isn’t that much in the way of choice for Australians. All of the airline points credit cards that I have seen here have a fairly hefty annual fee attached to them which just makes them not worth while.

What’s the best travel advice you’ve ever received?

“Say yes more”

What led you to start your blog?

Like most people, I started my blog for family and friends and as a way to record my own experiences, but it quickly grew into what it is now – a great source of information and inspiration for others.

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