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The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  9,810 ratings  ·  619 reviews
 In The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, celebrated Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima creates a haunting and vivid portrait of a young man’s obsession with idealized beauty and his destructive quest to possess it fully.

Mizoguchi, an ostracized stutterer, develops a childhood fascination with Kyoto’s famous Golden Temple. While an acolyte at the temple, he fixates on the struct
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published 1995 by Everyman's Library (first published 1956)
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3.98  · 
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 ·  9,810 ratings  ·  619 reviews

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Michael Finocchiaro
This story by Mishima is a beautiful tale about obsession and how it destroys the bearer. It is a fable loosely based on the true story of the burning of the Kinka-kuji temple in Kyoto (I visited it once - it is absolutely sublime!) A must read for entering into the awesome universe of Mishima's writing.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Oh yes, you do so want to read this novel. I would mark the following synopsis as a "spoiler," but all is revealed in the introduction, and the events that inspired the book are about as big a mystery for the Japanese as what happened to the Titanic is to Westerners anyway, so don't go getting all sore with me like I'm maliciously ruining all your fun. We are being multicultural and pretending we already knew about this major historical event before hearing of and reading Mishima's novel. Who's ...more
Steven Godin
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, fiction
I have twice in the past tried to read Mishima, firstly 'Spring Snow' which at the time for what ever reason just couldn't seem to get into it, although will definitely return there in due course. Secondly had a go at 'The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea' but didn't like his nihilistic portrayal of youth. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion was far more accessible and enticing, but still retained a serious and disturbing tone. Based on this evidence, Mishima was somebody that held traditio ...more
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
On 1 July 1950, during the Allied Occupation of Japan, a Buddhist monk by the name of Yoken Hayashi set fire to the Kinkaku-ji, or, as it is known in English ‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’. Yoken was a man of little consequence; a character in history, who, had he not committed such an acrimonious act, would not have been remembered today. He suffered from a debilitating stutter, and was considered ugly by many of his peers.

It is often conjectured that Yoken was either schizophrenic or suf

When the Golden Temple got bombed, perhaps the phoenix statue at the rooftop would be awakened as a real undying phoenix and rose from the flame and ashes.

"Peace was kept when death and violence were on display publicly and regularly. So the one thing that should be made public properly is execution."

Actually, I read the Taiwanese translation of the story(, so the above quotes are not from the English translation.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

I think th
Lars Jerlach
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eddie Watkins
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-fiction
To make one Mishima take one dehydrated Dostoevsky; remove all hair and whiskers (go all the way! give old Dos a full Brazilian!) then polish to a steely sheen; carefully remove the heart and brain; take the heart between both hands and squeeze, using occult Buddhist techniques, until the heart’s emotional essence is drop by drop converted into intellectual conceits; collect these drops and add to brain; replace squeezed-out Dostoevsky heart with something pitiless; rehydrate with fanaticism and ...more
Stephen M
This book made me think of a term I learned in a psychology class called eidetic memory; a short look over at wikipedia will give a bit of a misleading definition. Eidetic memory, at least in the form that I learned it, is the short-term, instantaneous memory of visual images that, under certain theories, is stored for a very brief period of time before transferring into long term memory store. The effects of eidetic memory can be shown in a number of ways, but most famous is the optical illusio ...more
Jackson Burnett
Philosophy and art.
Kink, death, and destruction.

 photo image.jpg5_zps5oztbw46.jpg

In 1968, Japanese author Yukio Mishima committed ritual suicide to protest the Westernization of his country.

In 1950, Hayashi Yoken, a Buddhist monk, set fire to the ancient Zen temple called Kinkaku for reasons known only to him.

Mishima provides a fictional retelling of Yoken's crime in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The novel is a favorite of mine, but it is not a book one actually likes.

Mizoguchi, the fictional arsonist, tells his story, an
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How wonderfully freaked out is this book? It's about a young, introverted zen priest who becomes obssessed with a six hundred year old temple to the exclusion of everything else in his life, and then decides it has to be burned down to the ground. And it actually happened! Mishima is just brilliant at sucking you into the world of Mizoguchi's damaged neurosis. And almost every paragraph has at least one mind-fuck brilliant observation about beauty, ugliness, love, obsession, destruction, what ha ...more
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“To be sure, there are times when the reality of the outer world seems to be waiting for me, folding its arms as it were, while I was struggling to free myself. But the reality that is waiting for me is not a fresh reality. When finally I reach the outer world after all my efforts, all that I find is a reality that has instantly changed colour and gone out of focus- a reality that has lost the freshness that I had considered fitting for myself, and that gives off a half-putrid odour."

Mishima is
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 1950, the 600 year old Kinkakuji was burned down by a novice monk. Mishima creates a fictional account of the person and events leading up to its destruction. The success of this novel depends on how successful Mishima is in convincing the reader of the young acolyte’s personality, thoughts and motivations.

The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is beautiful, but not captivating. It may be that it is a reconstruction or it may be the thousands of tourists that rob it of its Zenness. Mizoguchi had high e
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yukio Mishima's The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a meditation on the relationship between words and action, beauty and ugliness, and Being and nothingness. In this book, which is one of Mishima's best novels, these themes are treated with considerable patience and depth, giving readers great insight into the philosophical issues that preoccupied Mishima for the entirety of his writing career; all the way up to his own ritual suicide by seppuku in 1970.
The plot of the story concerns a Japan
Jan 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
Mishima is one of the most famous modern Japanese writers and, near as I can tell, a complete nutjob. Or was, anyway. He killed himself by seppuku back in 1970.

Kinkakuji is one of his most famous works, and I chose it as a first entry into Mishima because I love reading books set in Kyoto and, well, I've been to Kinkakuji a few times.

My reaction upon seeing it was a lot like the main character's - disappointment. In the book, a young Mizuguchi is told by his father that the Golden Temple is the
Tatevik Najaryan
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatevik by: Anahit H.
Since childhood, I didn't like descriptions or texts without dialogs. I just skipped these parts. But strangely enough I also didn't like plays. Recently I've been reading both a lot. This was one of the most satisfying readings of the year, along with The Remains of the Day and Chocolate. I started reading this book at the same time with American Gods and at first I thought I shall abandon this book and read the former book. I always do so when I am reading a classic along with some fast readin ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sociopaths, those visiting the temple in Kyoto
There were some interesting philosophical soliloquies and conversations about beauty, identity, life and death, but the story threw me off a little with its pacing. The characters were quite unique, although in a collectively depressing and/or contrived manner. Mizoguchi, a stuttering sociopath, brought the protagonists of Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground and The Double to my mind.
...My appearance may be poor, but in this way my inner world was richer than anyone else's. Isn't it natural for
Smiley (aka. umberto)
3.75 stars

I simply didn't agree with a review somewhere that mentioned this novel in terms of its 'philosophical' view as cumulatively initiated, grasped and executed by setting fire to demolish the Golden Temple, the unique, historic, national temple of unsurpassed elegance and beauty in Japan. From its 10-chapter, 247-page content, we can read and see that it's started from Mizoguchi's mind, therefore, this is a matter of 'psychological' abnormality leading to the unthinkable arson.

I j
Only the Japanese can write books like this, I feel. Lyrically beautiful, aesthetically driven, thoroughly homoerotic, unsettlingly fascist at points, violently modernist, violently anti-modernist, violently violent, operatically melodramatic, sexually repressed, profoundly Buddhist, religious, anti-religious, and set in a landscape of burned temples and told by a misanthropic outsider. Lord I want to go there.
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of the most singularly moving works that I've ever read in my life.
Apr 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-red-circle
I saw "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" and now I'm re-reading this because I enjoyed it so much. Even bought the soundtrack. Would buy the DVD, but it isn't in my region. Annoying.


I only returned to this because I enjoyed "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" so much. The film includes a version of this book which does everything necessary in under 15 minutes. I got more from the film than I did reading the book. Someone has edited most, but not all, of the "Temple of the Golden Pavilion" s
Dramatic and poignant, like Mishima himself. I have a few issues with this translation, which seems a bit wooden sometimes, and several typos in this particular edition.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
“I had already recognized that I, who in my middle-school days had deliberately scratched the scabbard of my schoolmate’s sword, was not qualified to enter life through its bright surface. It was Kashiwagi who had first taught me the dark by-way along which I could reach life from the back. …As she drummed Kashiwagi’s misdeeds into my ears and told me of all the cloying sordidness of his behaviour towards her, the single word that I heard resounding in the night air was—‘life.’”

The Temple of
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
the best book ever written. at least in Japan. definitely the most beautiful
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese, own
My first time reading a work by Yukio Mishima, beyond a short story, and I did enjoy it. It was very well written and translated. I don't think it is a book you can appreciate with a single read through.

A nice introduction to Mishima and hopefully I can scratch off several others of his works this year.
Isaac Cooper
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I can’t tell you how much, dear reader, I loathe abandoning a book. I don’t do it lightly. It’s not something that I do willy-nilly. It’s not a pleasant experience, abandoning a book. It’s kind of like a break-up. Maybe there was something once in the relationship that really made it work, but you know in your heart you have to break up. Just like I know in my heart I have to stop reading a book, for whatever reason.

Hell, sometimes I abandon books that aren’t terrible, like Blood Meridian or …
Philippe Malzieu
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I went in Kyoto the first thing that I made is to go to see the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. I was not disappointed. When one it way leads to the clearing, its presence is supernatural. The beauty is effectly insupportable. he book is inspired by a true story. A young bonze set fire to the temple in 1950 and has then tried to commit suicide. In the book, the youg man finds the Temple's beauty so exceptional, so superhuman, he can only destroy it.
Writing is splendid, there is a progressio
Maru Kun
This book was so good it got me to map out a cycle route between "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion" itself, which lies to the north of Kyoto, and Maizuru - which as readers of the book will know is the home town of its (anti) hero and which gets quite a few mentions.

Anyone interested in the ride can find the directions here: Homage to Yukio Mishima. About 107km avoiding main roads but climbing up to 700m.

Not done myself yet, but if I have a chance to do it, I'll add some pictures!
Guillermo Galvan
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Arguably one of the greatest psychologically immersing books. It is an insight into the mind of a severely disturbed young man, based on true events. The book is a fairly short read but it's engrossing nature will give you the feeling you're into a long book. The strong metaphysical qualities are skillful woven into the paranoid working of the main character's mind. An unforgettable book.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Based on the real story of Hayashi Yoken's arson of the Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto, Yukio Mishima puts forward a wonderful portrayal of a troubled mind's descent into madness and the early signs and psychological abnormalities that led to this final and very intense event.
Apart from the amazing exploration of the human mind, the book is also endowed with brilliant descriptions of the Japanese society and landscape that strongly differ from the usual depictions in terms of impact and brilliance.
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese_lit, 2015

There are moments of character insight and poetic scenes that are worth quoting and remembering here. Yes, Mishima took the all-too-human arson of the Temple of the Golden Pavilion and made it into a philosophical and lyrical portrayal of a monk tormented by the temple and its beauty. But the upshot is a highly unrealistic exploration of a psyche (or should I say the human condition?) where no deep understanding of the character is achieved—not that you have to understand the character to en
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Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) was born in Tokyo in 1925. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University’s School of Jurisprudence in 1947. His first published book, The Forest in Full Bloom, appeared in 1944 and he established himself as a major author with Confessions of a Mask (1949). From then until his death he continued to publish novels, short stories, and plays each year. His crowning achievement, th ...more
“What transforms this world is — knowledge. Do you see what I mean? Nothing else can change anything in this world. Knowledge alone is capable of transforming the world, while at the same time leaving it exactly as it is. When you look at the world with knowledge, you realize that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed.” 405 likes
“The special quality of hell is to see everything clearly down to the last detail.” 97 likes
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