As a youth, Goichi Mizoguchi (Raizô Ichikawa) is tormented by his adulterous mother (Tanie Kitabayashi) but soothed by his father's stories of the Golden Pavilion, an ancient Buddhist temple. Later, the shy and stuttering Goichi studies to become a monk and befriends the wild Tokari (Tatsuya Nakadai), also a student. Finding himself at the Golden Pavilion, Goichi is disgusted by how debased the temple has become and feels the only pure action left is to destroy the beautiful building.
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