Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima

Original Name Kimitake Hiraoka
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Death 25 Nov 1970 (aged 45)
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Burial Fuchu City, Fuchū-shi, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Memorial ID 6133770 · View Source
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Author, Playwright. He wrote in a multitude of styles, from ornate to plain, and dealt with a variety of subjects drawn from both literary sources and contemporary life. Mishima was also an accomplished in the martial arts and briefly appeared in some films. After a highly successful yet controversial career he committed ritual suicide in 1970. Exceedingly well read in both classical Japanese and Western literature, Mishima produced works of intellectual brilliance and stylistic diversity. Certain of his novels and stories directly portray contemporary life. Some of his other works, such as his modern N plays, draw on various literary and philosophical writings for context. Some critics single out certain works by Mishima as thinly disguised autobiography. The author himself, however, usually denied these claims. Mishima published several promising stories as a high school and university student. Before his career was really underway he had also won the patronage of Yasunari Kawabata, a leading novelist who would eventually receive the only Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to a Japanese writer to that time. Mishima's first full-length novel, "Kamen no Kokuhaku" (Confessions of a Mask, 1949), appeared shortly after he left government service to devote himself to writing. A latent homosexual narrates the story. Though his sexual orientation is evident to the reader, the narrator himself, while describing his reactions with clarity, never draws any conclusion about his sexuality. Seldom erotic, the work is primarily an exact portrayal of an extremely self-enclosed personality. During the 1950s Mishima extended his exploration into various types of love. "Ai no Kawaki" (Thirst for Love, 1950), dealt with a farm widow caught up in a turmoil of love and hate. Mishima's ability to shift direction is strikingly demonstrated in his next notable work, "Shiosai" (The Sound of the Sea, 1954). In this instance, a young couple in a Japanese fishing village overcome their shyness and eventually recognize their love for one another. This story was exemplary of the Mishima canon for its simplicity and optimism. The 1960s might be termed the "political" phase of Mishima's life and career. Mishima eventually organized a movement to restore the imperial authority and martial discipline that Japan had lost through defeat in World War II. He founded and led the Shield Society, a group dedicated to the defense of the emperor. In the late 1960s he also wrote a controversial play, "Waga Tomo Hittora" (My Friend Hitler, 1968), and "Taiy to Tetsu" (Sun and Steel, 1968), an offshoot to his interest in physical fitness and bodybuilding. During the last five years of his life Mishima also immersed himself in writing a set of novels with the overall title "The Sea of Fertility." This set of books is held together principally by the theme of reincarnation and by the continued presence of one character, a schoolboy in the first novel, "Haru no Yuki" (Spring Snow, 1965-1967), and an aging lawyer in the last story, "Tennin Gosui" (The Decay of the Angel, 1970-1971). Honda, the character in question, is the epitome of rationality and empiricism. His sceptical nature is, however, severely tested by clear evidence that the reincarnation of his boyhood friend is actually taking place. The second work in this group, "Homba" (Runaway Horses, 1967-1968), is notable for its emphasis on martial discipline, especially the ritual suicide that occurs in the final scene. In association with comparable scenes, especially in the provocative story "Yukoku" ("Patriotism," 1960), this depiction of ritualistic suicide came to appear to be a harbinger of the author's own death. On November 25, 1970, after haranguing an assembly of self-defense personnel on imperial loyalty and military discipline, Mishima disemboweled himself with a sword, exactly as a samurai warrior in medieval Japan might have done. Mishima was the first Japanese writer of the postwar generation to attain international fame. Before his sensational death he was generally considered the most likely Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Among his works produced in the west was "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea." On November 25, 1971, the first anniversary of Mishima's death, the urn containing his ashes was found to be missed. After several weeks, the urn was found buried not far from Mishima's grave by a cemetery security guard. Although this act was throught to have been done by a Mishima admirer, it remains a mystery after many years. Several years after his death, the Yukio Mishima Museum was erected in his honor at Yamanakako village in Yamanashi prefecture.

Bio by: Warrick L. Barrett

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Warrick L. Barrett
  • Added: 28 Jan 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6133770
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Yukio Mishima (14 Jan 1925–25 Nov 1970), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6133770, citing Tama Cemetery, Fuchu City, Fuchū-shi, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan ; Maintained by Find A Grave .