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and Literature Department of Linguistics, Bilingual Education and Literature
THE TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN PAVILION BY: YUKIO MISHIMA
I. About the Author
Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) was the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威) born on January 14, 1925. He was the most famous, gifted and prolific young Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor and film director. He is also famously remembered for his ritual suicide by “seppuku” on November 25, 1970, after a failed coup d'état. He was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and is considered one of the most significant Japanese authors of the 20th century. He was famous for writing The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. II. About the Book
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) was published in 1956 and translated into English by Ivan Morris in 1959. It is based on a true event in Japan in 1950. This novel seems to be the most interesting book of Mishima. Two months after its initial release, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion sold over 300,000 copies making it Mishima’s most commercially successful novel to date. Two years later in 1958, the novel was made into a feature length film entitled Enjo by the accomplished director Kon Ichikawa. The film has become one of the modern classics of Japanese cinema. The novel is loosely based on actual events, the burning of the Reliquary (or Golden Pavilion) of Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto by a young Buddhist acolyte in 1950. The pavilion, dating from before 1400, was a national monument which had been spared destruction many times throughout history, and the arson shocked Japan. The story is narrated by Mizoguchi, who is afflicted with an ugly face and a stutter, and who recounts his obsession with beauty and the growth of his urge to destroy it. III. About the Golden Pavilion The golden pavilion is a rare masterpiece of Buddhist garden architecture. The history of the Golden Pavilion began in 1397 when Ashikaga Yoshimitusu, a great Shogun, abdicated in favor of his son and began to build this villa as a retreat. By 1407 it was a large complex with a three story pagoda, a seven story pagoda and numerous temples. Upon his death a year later the Golden Pavilion itself became a Zen temple, renamed Kinkaku-ji. The temple was destroyed
Father Tayama Dosen – the Superior of the Temple. where he had failed in business. He talked smoothly in a splendid Tokyo accent. Kurai – a relative of Mizoguchi’s mother who had returned to Nariu from Osaka. Characters and Plot A. 5. and introduces him to the Superior. She reveals her wish that he should succeed Father Dosen as Superior at Rokuon-ji. Kashiwagi – son of a Zen priest who happened to be club-footed. 6. 4. pocket money and provisions. 1950. Plot The protagonist. It was rebuilt in 1957 and renovated in 1987. bringing the mortuary tablet so that the Superior can say Mass over it. He was a plump man. the Kinkaku-ji serves as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As for now. and the idea of the temple becomes a fixture in his imagination. and destroyed again in 1567. Characters: 1. After his father's death. He was afflicted with and ugly face and stutter. He had an extramarital affair with Mizoguchi’s mother. III. but one is his first real friend. The two ambitions—that the temple be . Mizoguchi. Throughout his childhood he is assured by his father that the Golden Pavilion is the most beautiful building in the world. On the first anniversary of his father's death. 2. Tayama Dosen. Mizoguchi – He was a son of a Buddhist priest and a young Buddhist acolyte in question. In May 1945. His ill father takes him to the Kinkaku-ji for the first time in the spring of 1944. Mizoguchi becomes an acolyte at the temple. rebuilt. when a novice monk. Uiko – a pretty girl who had large eyes and a rich family. The Golden Pavilion survived intact until July 3rd. She was the woman whom Mizoguchi had sensual feelings for. He was rich and his parents provided his school expenses. they witness a strange scene in a room of the Tenju-an nearby: a woman in a formal kimono gives her lover a cup of tea to which she adds her own breast milk. B. who apparently believed the aesthetic qualities of the pavilion detracted from religious concentration. he and Tsurukawa visit Nanzen-ji. He was so much obsessed with the beauty of the Golden Pavilion and because of that. the urge for him to destroy the temple grew. It ended up that he found himself setting the temple afire. His wife would not take him back into their house and he was obliged to stay in Mizoguchi’s father’s temple until the affair subsided. and there are only three acolytes. his mother visits him. burned it to the ground. From the tower. Tsurukawa – He came from a prosperous temple in the suburbs of Tokyo. By now only the pavilion and an annex survived. a stammering boy is the son of a consumptive Buddhist priest who lives and works on the remote Cape Nariu on the north coast of Honshū.during a civil war in 1467. the candid and pleasant Tsurukawa. a friend of Mizoguchi’s father when they had studied at a Zen temple. his face was wrinkled and round yet he had a long nose. It is the height of the war. 3.
they discuss the Zen story of Nansen and the kitten. Kashiwagi invites him to a "picnic" at Kameyama Park. but committed suicide over a love affair. and in the early hours of July 2. As Mizoguchi's mental illness worsens. On hearing the news of the end of the war and the Emperor's renunciation of divinity. "Nansen kills a kitten". Mizoguchi's mind fills with visions of the Golden Pavilion." He demonstrates his method to Mizoguchi by feigning a tumble in front of a girl. afterwards. He pushes his girlfriend down into the snow. He sets off northwest the next morning. The Superior gives her money and says nothing to the acolytes. or that it should be his to control—leave him confused and ambivalent. to the region of his birth. Father Dosen takes the unusual step of giving Mizoguchi ¥4250 in cash for his next year's tuition. of Ryuho-ji in Fukui Prefecture. but rumours of her claims spread. Father Dosen calls his acolytes and tells them the fourteenth Zen story from The Gateless Gate. In May. befriending Kashiwagi. A strange interview with the visiting Father Kuwai Zenkai. who is having his head shaved by the deacon. Father Dosen thanks him. he neglects his studies. a cynical clubfooted boy from Sannomiya who indulges in long "philosophical" speeches. and is filled with confusion. and seems him crouched in the "garden waiting" position. they "fall in love with my clubfeet. Kashiwagi shows letters to Mizoguchi that reveal the fact that Tsurukawa did not die in a road accident.destroyed. provides the final inspiration. he cannot account for this evidence of secret shame. placing three straw bales in corners of the ground floor. and when he spies on Dosen in the Tower of the North Star. He hopes to discourage Mizoguchi from doing anything similar. Kashiwagi is angry. Mizoguchi avoids Kashiwagi's company. When left alone with the girl. During the winter of that year. He starts to drift away from Tsurukawa. and another girl for Mizoguchi. He goes outside to sink some non-inflammable items in the pond. But he quickly tires of waiting for Dosen to find out. Mizoguchi goes indoors and obsequiously presents the cartons to the Superior. On June 10 Kashiwagi complains to Father Dosen. A week later the girl visits the temple. and spends three days at Yura (now Tangoyura). and tells him he has been chosen for the scholarship to Otani University. and orders Mizoguchi to trample her stomach. In the spring of 1947 he leaves with Tsurukawa for Otani University. but on turning back to the . That evening a telegram arrives at the university bearing news of kindly Tsurukawa's death in a road accident. and he finds himself impotent. Mizoguchi sneaks into the Kinkaku and dumps his belongings. On June 15. For the last time. who gives him the principal. and demands compensation for the miscarriage she has suffered. tells her story. giving him two cartons of cigarettes in exchange for doing so. and comes to suspect that Mizoguchi is considering suicide. which leaves them bemused. She helps him into her house. the Temple is visited by a drunken American soldier and his pregnant Japanese girlfriend. she tells him a story about a woman she knows who lost her lover during the war. He realises that the woman she is talking about must be the same one he saw two years before through a window of Tenju Hermitage. where the sight of the Sea of Japan inspires him to destroy the Kinkaku. Kashiwagi boasts of his ability to seduce women by making them feel sorry for him —in his words. Mizoguchi spends it on prostitutes in the hope that Dosen will be forced to expel him. taking the girl he tricked. and the people at the temple become uneasy about Mizoguchi. For nearly a year.
"When you meet the Buddha. The beauty that he thought would last a lifetime is made out of materials that would decay when it gets old. out of the temple grounds. and he resolves to go ahead with his plan. When his father used to glorify the Golden Pavilion in Mizoguchi’s eyes. and up the hill named Hidari Daimonji. he was disillusioned. to the north. beauty is something that would last forever like the nature and environment. and watches the pavilion burn. He enters the Kinkaku and sets the bales on fire. and he is overcome by uncertainty. kill the Buddha". when he came to see the Golden Temple face-to-face. Conclusion References . Finally he remembers the words from the Rinzairoku. V. In the Japanese context. the mind of the young boy made the temple his standard of beauty. Novel Analysis A. IV. VI. However. lights a cigarette. Beauty in the Japanese context The novel’s main concern is beauty of the Golden Pavilion and Mizoguchi’s disappointment that this temple is made up of physical material. He continues running.temple he finds himself filled with his childhood visions of its beauty. He throws away the arsenic and knife. choking on the smoke. He runs back downstairs and out of the temple.
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