The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Mishima Yukio wrote “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” in 1952 and it is considered one of his absolute masterpieces, and rightly so. It is the fictional account of the burning of a temple in Kyoto in 1950.
The books main character is named Mizoguchi and it begins during his childhood and teenage years and follows him as he becomes a Buddhist monk in training at the famous “Golden Temple’ in Kyoto Japan. He is pushed and directed into this course for a variety of reasons including his father’s wishes and his families extreme poverty.
Mizoguchi stutters. This becomes a huge part of the book and it is interesting to watch Mishimas very subtle yet deliberate forrays into the pyschology of the Japanese man via this character Mizoguchi.
At times the book feels almost like “Fight Club” or “Choke” or something from Chuck Palahniuk due to this continuous obsession with the deformed and the downtrodden not to mention the main characters intense Nihilism.
Mishimas own distaste for women seems to come to the fore front as well. Mizoguchi’s mother betraying her sick husband, his father while having sex with a man in the very same room as Mizoguchi and his Father. The trampling of a prostitutes stomach and breasts at the behest of an American serviceman. The many intensely attractive women that are attracted to men with deformities rings of the authors distrust and dislike for women as a whole. Its fairly intense.
I have read this only once and to be honest it is one of those books that requires additional attention. Its just heavy in that way. Although I look forward to reading it again at the same time I have this encroaching sense of dread at the prospect as this book gives the reader little back other than a general sense of isolation and malaise.
It is however something that should be read by anyone who either appreciates some what verbose literature or has an interest in trying, however futily, to understand what is going on inside the minds of Japanese people.