This is my second book by Mishima. My first was the Sound of the Waves which is a simple love story, and basically a Novella. This is very different. The Temple of the Golden Pavillion is transgressive literature and very good. It is apparently based on real events. The story concerns a young Buddhist priest in training who becomes obsessed with The Golden Temple where he is partially raised and trained.
The story is clearly brilliant and I preferred it to The Sound of the Waves. I struggled with it a bit, in part because of the cultural gap and in part because my knowledge of Zen Buddhism's nuances is not nearly complete enough. However, I think that the meaning of the story is probably pretty elusive, even for those without those difficulties. Much of the story deals with arguments and philosophical points that are perversions of Zen Buddhism. However, the story is much more than an account of a disturbed individual. It has a great deal to say about beauty and purpose. It also is constantly disconcerting surprising and strange. The story telling is very matter of fact and less poetical than some Japanese novels, including Mishima's The Sound of the Waves.
It's pretty clearly a masterpiece, although much of it is quite baffling and it is often hard to develop a stance and an attitude toward reading it. That's clearly on purpose. A very good book.