The narrator is Mizoguchi. the son of a poor provincial priest. Even as a child, his father told him about the Golden Temple – Kinka-kuji – in the old capital of Japan, Kyoto. According to his father, there was nothing more beautiful in the world than the Golden Temple, and Mizoguchi often began to think about him: the image of the Temple settled in his soul. Mizoguchi grew up as a sickly, sickly child, besides, he stuttered, this alienated him from his peers, developed isolation, but at heart he imagined himself as a ruthless ruler or a great artist – the ruler of souls.
In the village of Cape Nariu, where Mizoguchi’s father lived, there was no school, and the boy was taken to his uncle. In the neighborhood with them lived a beautiful girl – Wyko. One day Mizoguchi watched her and unexpectedly jumped out onto the road when she was riding a bicycle, but could not utter a word out of excitement. The mother of the girl complained to his uncle, and he brutally abused him. Mizoguchi cursed Wyco and began to wish her death. A few months later, a tragedy occurred in the village. It turned out that the girl had a lover who deserted the army and hid in the mountains. One day, when Wyko was carrying his food, the gendarmes seized her. They demanded to show them where the runaway sailor hides. When Wyco led them to the Congo temple on Mount Kahara, her lover shot her with a pistol, and then shot herself. So the curse of Mizoguchi came true.
Rector of the Temple, the Monk Dosin was an old friend of Mizoguchi’s father: in their youth they lived side by side for three years in the Zen monastery. The consumptive father of Mizoguchi, knowing that his days were numbered, asked Dosan to take care of the boy. Dosan promised. After returning from Kyoto, the Golden Temple began to regain the soul of Mizoguchi. “The temple has overcome the test of reality, to make the dream even more captivating.” Soon the father of Mizoguchi died, and the boy went to Kyoto and began to live under the Golden Temple. The abbot adopted him as a novice. Leaving the gymnasium, Mizoguchi entered the school at the Rinzai Buddhist Academy. Unable to get used to the fact that he is now so close to the beautiful structure, Mizoguchi many times a day went to look at the Golden Temple. He prayed the Temple to love him, to reveal his secret to him.
Mizoguchi became friends with another novice, Tsurukawa, He felt that Tsurukawa was not capable of loving the Golden Temple as he did, for his worship before the Temple was based on the consciousness of his own ugliness. Mizoguchi was surprised that Tsurukawa had never laughed at his stammering, but Tsurukawa explained that he was not one who paid attention to such things. Mizoguchi insulted ridicule and contempt, but even more strongly he hated sympathy. Now he discovered something new: spiritual sensitivity. The kindness of Tsurukawa ignored his stammering, and Mizoguchi remained his own self, while Mizoguchi used to think that a person who ignores his stutter rejects his whole being. Tsurukawa often did not understand Mizoguchi and always tried to see in his thoughts and deeds noble motives. It was the forty-fourth year.
Everyone was afraid that after Tokyo they would start bombing Kyoto, and Mizoguchi suddenly realized that the Temple could die in a fire of war. Before, the Temple seemed eternal to the boy, while the boy himself belonged to the mortal world. Now he and the Temple lived the same life, they were threatened with a common danger, they were waiting for the common fate – to burn in the flames of incendiary bombs. Mizoguchi was happy, he saw in the dreams of a city caught in a fire. Shortly before the end of the war, Mizoguchi and Tsurukawa went to the Nanjenzi Temple and, admiring the surroundings, saw in the Tengju Temple where they rented rooms for tea ceremonies, as a young beautiful woman served tea to the officer. Suddenly she opened the kimono collar, bared her breast and squeezed her fingers. Milk splashed from the breast directly into the officer’s cup. The officer drank this strange tea, after which the woman again hid her white breast in a kimono. The boys were amazed. Mizoguchi, the woman seemed alive to Wyko. Later, trying to find an explanation, the boys decided that it was the farewell of an officer leaving for the front with a woman who gave birth to a child from him,
When the war was over and the Temple was no longer in danger, Mizoguchi felt that his connection with the Temple was interrupted: “Everything will be as before, only more hopeless, I’m here, and the Beautiful is somewhere there.” There were more visitors in the Golden Temple, and when the soldiers of the occupation troops came, Mizoguchi led an excursion, for of all those who lived at the Temple, he knew English best. One morning in the Temple came a drunken American soldier with a prostitute. They quarreled among themselves, and the woman gave the soldier a slap in the face. The soldier got angry, knocked her over and told Mizoguchi to step on it. Mizoguchi obeyed. He was pleased to trample on a woman. Sitting in the car, the soldier handed Mizoguchi two packets of cigarettes. The boy decided that he would give these cigarettes to the abbot. He will be pleased with the gift, but he will know nothing, and will thus become an involuntary accomplice in evil, perfect Mizoguchi. The boy was a good student, and the rector decided to give him a favor. He said that when Mizoguchi graduates from high school, he can go to Otani University. It was a great honor. Tsurukawa, who was going to study in Otani at his own expense, was glad for Mizoguchi. A week later a prostitute came to the abbot and told how one of the novices trampled her feet, after which she had a miscarriage. The abbot paid her compensation, which she demanded, and Mizoguchi said nothing, because there were no witnesses of the incident. The fact that the abbot decided to hush things up, Mizoguchi learned only by chance. Tsurukawa could not believe that his friend was capable of such an abominable act. Mizoguchi, in order not to disappoint him, said that there was nothing like this. He rejoiced at the perfect evil and his impunity.
In the spring of 1947 the young man entered the preparatory department of the university. The behavior of the abbot, so nothing and did not tell him after talking with a prostitute, was a mystery to him. It was also not known who would become the successor to the abbot. Mizoguchi dreamed of taking his place with time, dreamed about it and the mother of the young man. At university, Mizoguchi met Kasivagi. Kasivagi was clumsy, and stutterer Mizoguchi felt that this was the most suitable company for him. For Kashiwagi, his clubfoot was both a condition, and the cause, and the purpose, and the meaning of life. He told me that one pretty parishioner was going crazy about him, but he rejected her love, because she does not believe in it. He was in front of Mizoguchi met with a beautiful girl from a rich family and started an affair with her. Tsurukawa did not like Mizoguchi’s rapprochement with Kashiwagi, he often warned his friend,
One day, purposely choosing the most dull and windy weather, Kashiwagi and his girlfriend invited Mizoguchi and Kasivagi’s neighbor in the house to a picnic. There neighbor Kashiwagi told about the famous teacher Ikebana, who during the war had a lover from whom she even gave birth to a child, but he immediately died. Before sending the lover to the front, they arranged a farewell tea ceremony at the Nanjenzi Temple. The officer said that he would like to try her milk, and she poured him milk directly into a cup of tea. And then a month passed before the officer was killed. Since then, the woman lives alone.
Mizoguchi was amazed to hear this story, and remembered the scene that they and Tsurukawa had seen in the temple. Kasivagi claimed that all his girlfriends go crazy at his feet. And the truth, when he cried out that his legs hurt, as his girlfriend rushed to iron and kiss them. Kashiwagi and his girlfriend left, and Mizoguchi kissed the rest of the girl, but as soon as he put his hand under her skirt, the Golden Temple arose before him and revealed to him the whole futility of longing for life, the total negligibility of a fleeting one in comparison with the eternal. Mizoguchi turned away from the girl. In the evening of the same day, the temple’s representative received news from Tokyo about the death of Tsurukawa, who went there to visit his relatives. Mizoguchi, who did not cry when his father died, this time wept bitterly. Almost a whole year his voluntary mourning for Tsurukawa continued. He almost did not communicate with anyone. But a year later he again became friends with Kasivagi, who introduced him to his new mistress: the very teacher of ikebana, who, according to Kasivagi, started all the hard after the death of her lover. Mizoguchi witnessed Kasivagi’s brutal treatment of this woman. He just decided to part with her. A woman in tears ran out of Kasivagi’s house. Mizoguchi followed her. He told her that he had seen her farewell to her lover. The woman was ready to surrender to him, but at the last moment the Golden Temple appeared again before the young man… After leaving the woman, Mizoguchi went to the Temple and told him: “Someday you will submit to me! I will subordinate you to your will and you will not be able to me any more harm!” after the death of her lover started all the hard. Mizoguchi witnessed Kasivagi’s brutal treatment of this woman. He just decided to part with her. A woman in tears ran out of Kasivagi’s house. Mizoguchi followed her. He told her that he had seen her farewell to her lover. The woman was ready to surrender to him, but at the last moment the Golden Temple appeared again before the young man… After leaving the woman, Mizoguchi went to the Temple and told him: “Someday you will submit to me! I will subordinate you to your will and you will not be able to me any more harm!” after the death of her lover started all the hard. Mizoguchi witnessed Kasivagi’s brutal treatment of this woman. He just decided to part with her. A woman in tears ran out of Kasivagi’s house. Mizoguchi followed her. He told her that he had seen her farewell to her lover. The woman was ready to surrender to him, but at the last moment the Golden Temple appeared again before the young man… After leaving the woman, Mizoguchi went to the Temple and told him: “Someday you will submit to me! I will subordinate you to your will and you will not be able to me any more harm!”
At the very beginning of 1949 Mizoguchi, during a walk, accidentally saw the abbot with a geisha. Afraid that he might notice, Mizoguchi went the other way, but soon he again faced the abbot. It was impossible to pretend that he did not see Dosan, and the young man wanted to mumble something, but then the abbot said angrily that there was nothing to spy on, from which Mizoguchi realized that the abbot had also seen him for the first time. The next few days he expected a severe reprimand, but the abbot was silent. His impassiveness infuriated and troubled the youth. He bought a postcard with a portrait of a geisha who was with the abbot, and put it among the newspapers that brought Dosana into the office. The next day he found her in the drawer of the table that was standing in his cell.
After making sure that the rector harbored anger, Mizoguchi began to learn worse. He skipped classes, and even a complaint from the dean’s office came to the Temple. The abbot began to treat him with an emphatic coldness and once said bluntly that there was a time when he was going to appoint him as his successor, but the time had passed. Mizoguchi instantly wanted to escape somewhere, even for a while.
Lent Kasivagi money for interest, he bought in the temple Tateisao Omikudzi sign with a prediction to determine the route of his journey. On the plate he read that on his way there was a misfortune and that the most dangerous direction was the north-west. It was to the north-west that he went.
In the town of Jura on the beach, he came up with a thought that grew and gained strength, so that it was no longer hers, but he told her. He decided to burn the Golden Temple. The hostess of the hotel, where Mizoguchi stayed, alarmed by his stubborn unwillingness to leave his room, called the policeman, who, having paternally chided the young man, brought him back to Kyoto.
In March 1950, Mizoguchi graduated from the preparatory department of the University of Otani. He turned twenty-one. Since he did not give Kasivagi the debt, he went to the abbot and showed him the receipt. The abbot paid his debt and warned Mizoguchi that if he did not stop his disgrace, he would be expelled from the Temple. Mizoguchi realized that he must hurry. Kasivagi felt that Mizoguchi had some destructive plans, but Mizoguchi did not reveal his soul. Kasivagi showed him the letters of Tsurukawa, where he told him his secrets. It turns out that he fell in love with a girl on whom his parents forbade him to marry, and in desperation committed suicide. Kasivagi hoped that Tsurukawa’s letters would turn Mizoguchi away from his destructive plans, but he was mistaken.
Although Mizoguchi did not study well and finished the preparatory department last, the abbot gave him money to pay for the first semester. Mizoguchi went to a brothel. He could no longer understand whether he wanted to lose his innocence in order to burn the Golden Temple with an unwavering hand, or whether he decided to set fire to want to part with the damned innocence. Now the Temple did not stop him from approaching the woman, and he spent the night with a prostitute. On June 29, the guide announced that a fire alarm system was not working in the Golden Temple. Mizoguchi decided that it was a sign sent down to him by the sky. On June 30, the signaling did not have time to repair, on July 1 the worker did not come, and Mizoguchi, having thrown some of his belongings into the pond, entered the Temple and put the rest of the things in a pile in front of the statue of its founder, Yoshimitsu. Mizoguchi plunged into the contemplation of the Golden Temple, he forever said goodbye to him. The temple was the most beautiful in the world. Mizoguchi thought that perhaps he had prepared so carefully for the Act, because it was not really necessary to do it. But then he remembered the words from the book “Rindzairoku”: “Meet the Buddha – kill the Buddha, meet the patriarch – kill the patriarch, meet the saint – kill the saint, meet the father and mother – kill the father and mother, meet the kinsman – kill and kinsman. you are enlightenment and deliverance from the frailty of being. ” you will meet a kinsman – kill and kinsman. Only thus will you attain enlightenment and deliverance from the frailty of being. ” you will meet a kinsman – kill and kinsman. Only thus will you attain enlightenment and deliverance from the frailty of being. “
Magical words removed from him the spell of impotence. He set fire to a bundle of straw that he brought to the Temple. He remembered the knife and arsenic that he had taken with him. He had an idea to commit suicide in the third tier of the Temple, the Peak of the Beautiful, which was gripped by the fire, but the door was locked there, and, however hard he tried, he could not knock it out. He realized that the Top of the Beautiful refuses to accept it. Going downstairs, he jumped out of the Temple and started running wherever his eyes looked. He came to his senses on Mount Hidaridaimondzi. The temple was not visible – only the flames. Putting his hand into his pocket, he found a bubble with arsenic and a knife and threw them away: he was not going to die. His heart was calm, like after a job well done.