The photo was taken on January 20th of 2001. I was living near Ginkakuji at the time.
Ginkakuji was first constructed as a villa of the 8th Shogun of Ashikaga Shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-1490), in Higashiyama (=Eastern mountain) area of Kyoto. He lived in this villa from 1482 to 1490. After his death, the villa was converted into a Buddhist temple.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa was well versed in art. Under his patronage, Japan saw the growth of Higashiyama culture that is the direct origin of representative Japanese cultures such as tea ceremony, flower arrangemant, Noh and Japanese brush painting. Also, he had a huge collection of East Asian arts. Momohato-zu (A pigeon on a peach tree) painted by the 8th Emperor of the Sung Dynasty, Hui Tsung (1082-1135), was one of his collections at the time.
As a ruler, he is counted as one of the worst Shogun. Indulging in art, he left politics in retainers' hands, which caused the outbreak of Onin war in 1467. An old record Onin-ki, or the Record of Onin war, says that, even when the battle ruined the whole city of Kyoto, he continued a feast drinking sake showing no concern about the wretched state of the city and the people. After the Onin war, Japan gradually entered the Sengoku period, or Warring States period. Ginkakuji was the place to hide himself from the horrible state of the country which was caused by his incompetence in politics.