The Golden Pavilion Explained

The Golden Pavilion Explained

The Golden Pavilion also known as Kinkaku-ji is probably one of the most famous places in Japan. It’s shiny and gorgeous, it’s protected by UNESCO and it even has a famous novel written about it.

So this time let me explain you the Gorgeous Golden Pavilion.


  • The good old days of Saionji estate
  • Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and the Golden Pavilion
  • 500 years when nothing happened
  • Let it burn! Yukio Mishima and “The temple of Golden Pavilion”
  • Was it even golden? And welcome to today

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What do you think about the story of the Golden Pavilion? Lots of ups and downs, right? Now let’s see what else you can read or watch about this magnificent building.


I’ve only read a part about the Golden Pavilion, so I can’t tell you much about the rest of the book, but what I read was interesting and very refreshing after hundreds of almost identical articles describing the incident in the same phrases. 

This is a book I don’t have to tell you much about. One of the masterpieces of Mishima (and while I’m not his biggest fan, his works are usually done at the highest standard), it makes you feel the obsession of his protagonist with Kinkaku. It goes into tiny details, making events so realistic, it becomes hard to find where reality meets fiction.


But check this one out to see photos taken right after the fire and during the restoration.


The first movie based on Mishima’s novel. A movie like pieces of broken memories. A movie that smells madness from the first minutes. I’d even say it’s a bit scary. Not my favourite work, but I’m not a big fan of old Japanese movies to start with.

The second adaptation of Mishima’s work. This one is my personal favourite. While it doesn’t have the same aura of madness as Conflagration, it is closer to Mishima’s work and it matches with the way I see the book.

This movie is more about Mishima than the pavilion itself, though the full first chapter is dedicated to “The Temple of Golden Pavilion”. 

This old anime is not about the Golden Pavilion, but about a monk Ikkyu who lived at the same time as Ashikaga Yoshimitsu – the man who built Kinkaku. And he often appears in the plot, sometimes even next to his beloved pavilion.

These four are all adaptations of Minakami Tsutomu’s “Gobancho Yugiriro” and I’ve yet to watch them. While movies seem relatively easy to find, I’m not so sure about the dramas. So let me know if you find them first.

I really like the concept of this program exploring Kyoto one street at the time. Here you can learn which other places worth a visit if you’re going to Kinkaku-ji.

Check out Japan Explained on Patreon to unlock the access to the travel suggestions for the episode.

Talk to you soon. Bye!

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