The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

My mother recommended me a novel called The Temple of the Golden Pavilion written by Yukio Mishima. The main character is a buddhist monk who is obsessed with the beauty of the Golden Pavilion(Kinkaku-ji – 金閣寺), he is so obsessed that the image of the temple starts to appear in his mind when having sexual fantasies.

Mizoguchi, the main character, visited the Golden Pavilion for the first time when he was very young but all he could feel was disappointment. His father teached him that it was the most beautiful thing in the world, he was expecting much more. Everything changed when Mizoguchi contemplated a Golden Pavilion scale model, that was the moment when Mizoguchi could grasp the true nature of its beauty for the first time. He also started looking more and more at the reflection of the temple made by the Mirror Pond ( Kyōko-chi -鏡湖池 ). He could see the beauty of the temple through a copy and through a reflection. Sometimes for Japanese people, the original is not he most important thing, sometimes the reflection is more beautiful, and the copy is just better. Mizoguchi used the perfect mental image he made from the scale model and the reflection on the Mirror Pond in order to project it to the real Golden Pavillion and fall in love with it.

The book is full of references to reflections.

I leaned against the railing of the Hosuin-in and looked at the fantastically glittering surface of the pond. Never had the interior of the Golden Temple been exposed like this to the light- so brilliantly that it made one uneasy.

The reflection of the moon on the pond alse changed, becomeing dark and light by turnsñ sometimes it would draw together its scattered beams of light and sweep swiftly across the water. …

Pabellón dorado
This picture shows the Golden Pavilion reflection on the Mirror Pond, which one do you prefer? the real one? the reflection? (Picture by Zachwass)

Another recurring symbol is the moonlight.

Amid the moon and the stars, amid the clouds of the night, amid the hills which bordered on the sky with their magnificent silhouette of pointed cedars, amid the speckled patches of the moon, amid the temple buildings that emerged sparkling white out of the surrounding darkness- amid all this.

I stopped before it and idly began reading the characters, which were bathed in the moonlight.

When people concentrate on the idea of beauty, they are without realizing it, confronted with the darkest thoughts that exist in this world. That, I suppose, is how human beings are made.

Nobility, culture, what people consider aesthetic- the reality of all those things is barren and inorganic. It isn;t the Ryuan Temple that you see, but simply a pile of stones. Philosophy, art-it’s all a lot of stones. The only really organic concern that people have is politics. It’s a shame, isn’t it? One can almost say that human beings are no more than self-defiling creatures.

It is impossible to touch eternity with one hand and life with the other.

Let the darkness that is in my heart become equal to the darkness of the night that surrounds those innumerable lights!

I’ve visited the Golden Pavilion two times, but now I want to go there one more time. The first time I saw it I had the impresion that it was a big and fragile scale model next to a beautiful pond, something similiar to what I felt when I saw the Matsumoto Castle for the first time. I loved the reflections on both of these places.

You can go to the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) using the bus 101 or 205 from Kyoto Station. It will cost you 450 yen to enter, and it is opend from 9:30h until 17:00h (Like most of the Japanese temples).

Pabellón dorado
Alberto and me visiting the Golden Pavilion.

6 Comments
  • Peter

    April 8, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    This was such a pretty visit this past summer. I should of gotten my picture taken in front of it though!

  • Neil Duckett

    April 8, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Wow, what a brilliant looking scene that is.

  • Atlanta_pete

    April 9, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    My father visited this temple back in 1965 and I recently received a photo he took back then from my mom (he has since passed away) and I am heading to Tokyo this May. It is my dream to visit this same temple as my father did back in 1963 and take the same kind of photo. I believe it burned down at some point and then rebuilt. Does anyone know where in Tokyo to pick up the bus to visit? I am staying in Shinbashi. Thanks in advance.

  • mikayla and jaimee

    June 3, 2008 at 1:16 am

    the best looking thing ever

  • m.sundararaj suresh kumar

    September 10, 2009 at 3:46 am

    DEAR SIR OR MADAM
    I LIKE PHOTOS
    THANK YOU KIRAINET
    I AM M.S.SURESH KUMAR
    FROM SRI LANKA
    I AM FROM EVERAST MOUNTAN IN INDIA
    BAY…BAY…
    THANK YOU TO OMRON
    GIVING TO US
    JOB IN SRI LANKA
    1985 TO 2000
    DO YOU LIKE TO HELP ME.
    GOD WILL HELLP YOU
    2009/09/10

  • Golden Pavillion | TOP TRAVEL SPOTS

    September 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    […] &quotI leaned towards the railing of the Hosuin-in and looked at the fantastically glittering surface of the pond. Never ever had the interior of the Golden Temple been subjected like this to the light- so brilliantly that it produced one uneasy. &quot Continue on reading -&gt http://www.kirainet.com/english/the-temple-of-the-golden-pavilion/ […]