Kinkakuji-Temple on Fire, by Kawabata Ryūshi
On July 2, 1950, the three-storied square-shaped Golden Pavilion, a national treasure at Kinkakuji Temple (Rokuonji Temple) in Kyoto, was burned down by arson committed by a disciple of the temple. The incident, which shocked the public, was the subject of a novel by Mishima Yukio. Kawabata Ryūshi also learned of the disappearance of the notable cultural asset in a newspaper and painted it, intuiting that it would make a good subject for a painting.
Only two months after the incident, he exhibited “Kinkakuji-Temple on Fire” at the 22nd Seiryusha Exhibition. In response to its too-early creation, some people regarded it as a work of journalism rather than art. Ryūshi, however, did not actually see the burning golden temple and paint it; he painted the representation that emerged in his mind. He completed this work using only ink, vermillion, and gold, so to speak, the traditional materials of Japanese painting.