Makoto Hagakure Ukiyo Seppuku Zen Kamikaze Yakuza
Shinto Tatenokai Tanaka Jibakutai Jieitai Mishima Chu Hsi



Sort of frequently nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, Mishima Yukio (born as Hiraoka Kimitake, 1925-1970), was the greatest exotic specimen for the nosy caucasians around Tokyo since after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing.

He wasn't as good-looking as he might have wanted to be, but always dressed like only smart socialite knows how. His English was rather haphazard, but fluent like only Asians with the highest self-confidence could let it flow. His novels, dramas (kabuki), stories and essays didn't always merit the fuss, but none of them was average. He wasn't even tall for an Asian, but a commanding presence was enough to redeem that.

  Mishima Yukio's Bushido


I don't think that Mishima loved the crowd he used to hang out with, regardless of what some so-called 'art historians' say, except when the crowd was in the role of an audience to his whatever -- speech, for instance. His circle of existence consisted of just himself. He never had any close friend, and no pupil either; what he got was a large bunch of acquaintances, a number of pen-pals, a band of 'groupies', and most of Japan as his fandom. Plus a steady correspondent in the person of Nobel Laureate Kawabata Yasunari, whose writings are too different in everything from Mishima's that a comparison between them is not even sane to attempt.

Nothing in that spiritual seclusion is weird; writers and artists in general are like Mishima there. A large number of them have also been as much of exhibitionists as Mishima always was, mentally and physically; he wasn't as eccentric as some insist to maintain. His sharply compartmentalized life of 45 years -- there were a family sphere (Mishima had two kids), a private space, and a public appearance that never got overlapped -- isn't odd, since most public figures, or the species that my fellow- Indonesians call 'celebrities', keep exactly the same mode of operation.


The newly-wed Mishimas, Yukio and Yoko Mishima Yukio's Tokyo house

The wedding of the Mishima/Hiraoka; Yukio & Yoko. Marrrying in the very Japanese way, i.e. thru a professional matchmaker who collected candidates and then presented them one by one via a formal meeting (that's what 'miai' means), Mishima nearly married the woman who would be the Empress Michiko.

He rejected her because, like most Asian men, Mishima wouldn't have a bride that's "too tall".

Statements that it was caused by Mishima's insecurity "because he was a short man" is ridiculous. It is a 'universal' preference in Asia, with a very few exception, in all times.

Their decidedly un-Japanese house at Miname-Magome, Ohta ward, Tokyo, is said to have been designed by Mishima Yukio himself; the land he could afford was too limited to his liking but there was nothing he could do about it. His dad and mom lived exactly next door, in an exactly-alike house. Or the twin houses are actually one cut in halves.

As in everything else, Mishima was paradoxical in other people's eyes when it came to architecture. He was perfectly comfortable 'in' classic Japanese literature, he even wrote that way, too, yet, like his choice of houses, the public part of him was Northern.


Like most 'celebs', Mishima, too, put on a larger-than-life mask whenever he got out of his door. Hence he was, to the intrigued caucasians he knew, somewhat fun to be with. These people found him very attractive, even if tourists and expats have always been too quick to come to such a conclusion since 1452 until this minute -- any Asian who speaks their language(s), is talkative, and shows some 'knowledge' of their stuff (lifestyle, 'arts', and so forth), has been seen as beyond other Asians, whose racial preference is to brush shoulders with them as minimally as possible.


1940's Mishima 1950's Mishima 1960's Mishima


Now here comes the yummiest part of the Mishima parcel for his audience: though half of him was some plain rural DNA, the other half was Matsudaira.

His scary grandma gave him the dose of samuraihood. Incurably snobbish and unreasonably partial, like most Asians always are, the grandma and Mishima's dad shoved the boy into schools which were beneath the kid's intellectual power, simply because his mates there had their clan names registered forever in history books. One of Mishima's 'close friends' in High School, for instance, was Tokugawa Yoshiyasu.

Yet, school, that has been devouring practically the entire lives of Japanese kids since 1970's, wasn't made that much by Mishima in his times. The main source of everything that mattered in his bio was still the family; it wasn't Tokugawa who took him to see the play titled '47 Ronins' (click the title for what it's all about; this was based on real history), but his own mom.

The simplification of the matter, bluntly encouraged by Mishima himself, made the caucasians in Tokyo say to each other, "Here comes the samurai!". Of course they thought samuraihood was archaic. That's why it was, in their own void of any knowledge about it, charming.

  Mishima Yukio

It was typical that Mishima spent much time after his 30th birthday at gyms and dojos because he used to be physically unfit until then. Besides body-building, he also learned as much karate as he could, and swordsmanship.

Once the spartan workout showed visible results, his narcism stretched itself to include that of the body, too. That's why you'd always see some pix of Mishima taken for the Playboy, in any book and at any site about him.


"Playboy" Mishima Yukio "Playboy" Mishima 2

The most-famous pix of Mishima Yukio, that were appropriated by the gay advocacy enterprises all around this globe as well as by the samurai fandom since 1970. Some people take Mishima's sexual preference (homosexuality) as a fact, but actually this has never been clear.

Both his most-often-cited gay tomes Confessions of a Mask and Forbidden Colors are, after all, novels. Mishima's obsession with male sexuality was no hardcore, and he treated them the same as other subjects that he vivisected for their 'beauty'.

Mishima's 'homosexual leaning' could even have been just another 'mask' for public perusal. He might have picked it up to be in tune with the tradition of the Japanese samurai since time immemorial; most samurai heroes you encounter in history books were bisexuals. That was normal in Japan since Year One until 1868. (Click here for example.)


Well, it's true that you'd never again see a novelist brandishing swords that he could really cut your head with. The sensation created by such exhibitionism was predictably great, although redundancy slushed the magic down the drain after some time. Yet, even by the time people was reduced to just lift an eyebrow and say "What's Mishima up to now?", the Playboy pix and such revived the interest in the messy tidbits caucasians took to be 'the Japanese culture' and 'the way of the warrior'. Mishima Yukio, by himself, was a tourist attraction. He went to the U.S. and got his books translated and published there; his superficiality concocted for public perusal helped the sale.



Mishima's writings, too, were compartmentalized. His first great novel, the 'very literary' Confessions of a Mask (Kamen no Kokuhaku, 1949) was followed by similarly-accoladed works such as The Sound of Waves (Shiosai, 1954), The Temple of the Golden Pavillion (Kinkakuji, 1956), Rokumeikan (1957), After the Banquet (Utage no Ato, 1960), The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (Gogo no Eiko, 1963), Spring Snow (Haru no Yuki, 1968), The Temple of Dawn (Akatsuki no Tera, 1970), The Decay of the Angel (Tennin Gossui, 1970).

He also released kabuki plays all the same time, plus launching another sort of books like Literary Discussion of Life (Bungakuteki Jinseiron, 1954), Lectures on Immoral Education (Fudotoku Kyoiku Koza, 1959), Daiichi no Sei-Dansai Kenkyu Koza (The First Studies of Male Sexuality, 1964), The Book of Anti-Chaste Wisdom (Han-Teijo Daigaku, 1965), Mishima Yukio's Letter-Writing Class (Mishima Yukio Reta Kyoshitsu, 1968). Mishima also wrote movie scenarios, directed and starred in them.


Kinkakuji, Japanese architectural masterpiece Mishima as yakuza hitman Mishima as soldier
The Temple of the Golden Pavillion Mishima's gangster movie Mishima's movie Patriotism
See Japanese Architecture See Yakuza See Kamikaze


Still in the exact same span he published the kind of books such as Can a Modern Novel be a Classic? (Gendai Shosetsu wa Koten Tariuru ka?, 1957), Music (Ongaku, 1965), Fragmentary Reflections on Art (Me-Aru Geijutsu Danso, 1965), The Face of Art (Geijutsu no Kao, 1967), On Man and Literature (Taidan-Ningen to Bungaku, 1968), On Defense of Culture (Bunka Boeiron, 1969), Essays on Authors (Sakkaron, 1970).

And he also kicked these tomes belonging to one more genre to circulation: Sword (Ken, 1963), Patriotism (Yukoku, 1966), Voices of the Heroic Dead (Eirei no Koe, 1966), Discussion on the Japanese People (Taiwa-Shin Nihonjin Ron, 1966), Introduction to Hagakure (Hagakure Nyumon, 1967), Sun and Steel (Taiyo to Tetsu, 1968), For Young Samurai (Wakaki Samurai no tame ni, 1969), The Heart of Martial Spirits (Shobu no Kokoro, 1970), On Action (Kodogaku Nyumon, 1970).


Spring Snow Sun and Steel with Kawabata Yasunari
1968 1968 1960's


The energy he had was apparently well-managed to propel such a gaga-inducing range of interests.

Or was it such?

Because in a sense all those books (which are only examples here; all his career he published 295 books, 77 of which have been anglicized) were all similar: they were born out of Mishima Yukio's personal aestheticism.

'Aesthetic' as in 'beauty', that is, just in case you happen to be one of the zealous adherents of the so-called 'Contemporary Art', which has no such a notion in its lexicon.

Mishima had always been like the young monk he created, who burned Kyoto's Golden Pavillion precisely because he loved the thing so much (browse the novel yourself). He kept on mentioning Ruth Benedict's legendary tome The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946), as the writer was able to get the correct portrait of the Japanese soul according to Mishima; but Mishima's own approach to everything in this Milky Way was thru aesthetics, even when the subject was martial arts, sex, sado-masochism, narcism, 'morals', and so on.

This doesn't mean that he wasn't serious about anything.

Some 'historians' say that Mishima Yukio was only serious about his novels, half-serious with his plays, even less with essays, and not at all in martial arts -- that's really a mindless guess. Perhaps you've never met anybody like him, and maybe you never will; but this fact doesn't mean that there is no such a person on your planet who could do a vastly different things in a variety of interests with equal enthusiasm and ability in each.



Anyway, Mishima Yukio has been wrongly immortalized for his 'Right-Wing Politics', and this, too, persists until today no matter what, since his essays on Bushido stressed the fact, and the last words he said before he died were "Tenno Heika Banzai!" ("Long Live the Emperor!"; that meant Hirohito, because 'Tenno Heika' means 'the Emperor who is on the throne right now').

Mishima was never a political mammal, all his life. He still wasn't political when he loudly advertised himself as one.

Politics was absolutely absent from half of his works, and appeared in several gigabytes but unclearly in the other half; his interest in political stuff was for the 'beauty' of it, like, worshipping the Emperor as the son of the Goddess of the Sun. For this, he went into much-publicized debates and mutual enmity with the kabuki company he worked with, as well as with the union of writers and the creatures named 'critics', plus student bodies which trend was Leftist.

The same Mishima had some fights against the Right-Wingers, too, because he, in different books and different occasions, attacked the Imperial House, even suggested that Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989) should do better to abdicate so that he could reflect upon the grave sin of World War II that took so many lives of his people.

His later view of the Emperor, told many times after he decided to take this Meijian Shintoist creed up (click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about), was even aesthetic, and not political: "His Majesty sat there through the ceremony," Mishima said, "for hours, without even moving a muscle until it was over. That is majestic. It's beautiful."


Emperor Hirohito's 'coronation day' Emperor Hirohito and General Douglas McArthur, 1945

Emperor Hirohito at his ascension, 1926. He's the 124th Emperor according to the Japanese headcount, which dated back to 660 years before the start of the Gregorian calendar (see History of Japan at another page).

Click here for what Shintoism is all about, since it was the thing implied in Bushido and Mishima's 'public' belief.

Or click here for the complete list, story & pictures of all Emperors, Empresses, Regents, Chief Ministers, and all rulers of Japan since Year One until this minute.

With General Douglas McArthur in 1945, right after Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces.

I often saw this same pic getting posted online with comments that run to the same direction: "Now the Japanese know that the Emperor they worship is a small man!".

Nothing could be more ludicrous.

If you really believe that the bald and shabby McArthur actually impressed or even intimidated the Japanese via this pic, you obviously need some injection of commonsense.

Not only that McArthur was very unimpressive; he was also not the US of A -- while Emperors of Japan always have been Japan. There the inequality of power lays at. Savvy?


So was he inconsistent?

No, he was consistent all the time.

His focus was the aesthetic of such things; what did he care if he bashed both the Left and the Right and even the 'Neutral' zone?

Japan was not what it is today, in Mishima's times.

He grew up watching one political disaster and the next and the next -- the attempts at coup d'etat by this and that military bands, the coming and going of Cabinets, the atomic bombs, the draft (which he dodge, taking advantage of the fact that he was really ill at the time), the shameful defeat and the devastating no-rearmament aftermath. Probably those numbed him somewhat so that he acquired the typically middle-class impolitical attitude smoothly.

Yet, the 47 Ronins stayed in Mishima's mind and refused to fly away since his mom took him to see the play; so did his grandma's 'brainwashing' reminders that he was partially belonging to the warrior class in this militarily hopeless postwar Japan.

It mattered that he owned an authentic 16th century sword, forged by one of the masters in the Warring States ('Sengoku') era, Seki Magoroku.


Next Page: The birth of the Shield Society, what Mishima's Bushido was, what he did to Bushido, and what Bushido became after he died.


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Samurai's View of Life (Death) Zen Mishima Yukio, Tatenokai, Jieitai
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Nina Wilhelmina


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Sources tapped for this page: Nihon Shakai no Kazoku teki Kosei (Tokyo: 1948); Kono Shozo, Kokumin Dotoku Yoron (Tokyo: 1935); Anesaki Masaharu, Nichiren, the Buddhist Prophet (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1916); Robert Cornell Armstrong, Light from the East, Studies of Japanese Confucianism (University of Toronto, Canada, 1914); Sasama Yoshihiko, Nihon kassen zuten (Yuzankaku, 1997); William Aston, Shinto: The Way of the Gods (London: Longmans, Green, 1905); Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1946); Charles Eliot, Japanese Buddhism (London, 1935); Futaki Kenichi, Chuusei buke no saho (Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1999); Kiyooka Eichii, The Autobiography of Fukuzawa Yukichi (Tokyo, Hokuseido Press, 1934); Konno Nobuo, Kamakura bushi monogatari (Kawade shobo shinsha, 1997); Nukariya Kaiten, The Religion of the Samurai (London: Luzac, 1913); A.L. Sadler, The Beginner's Book of Bushido by Daidoji Yuzan (Tokyo: Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai, 1941); A.L. Sadler, The Makers of Modern Japan (Tokyo: Tuttle, 1978); Satomi Kishio, Nichirenism and the Japanese National Principles (NY: Dutton, 1924); Suzuki D.T., Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture (Kyoto: The Eastern Buddhist Society, 1938); Henri Van Straelen, Yoshida Shoin (Leiden: Brill, 1952); Robert Bellah, Tokugawa Religion; Sato Hiroaki, Legends of the Samurai (Overlook Press, 1995); Masaaki Takahashi, Bushi no seiritsu: Bushizo no soshutsu (Tokyo: Tokyo daigaku, 1999); Stephen Turnbull, Samurai Warlords (London: Blandford Publishing, 1992); Paul Akamatsu, Meiji 1868, Revolution and Counter-Revolution (Allen & Unwin, 1972); Nitobe Inazo, Bushido, The Soul of Japan (Tokyo: Tuttle, 1970); Paul Varley and Ivan Morris, The Samurai (Weidenfeld, 1970); Inoguchi and Nakajima, The Divine Wind: Japanese Kamikaze Force in World War II (Hutchinson, 1959), Seki Yukihiko, Bushi no tanjo (Tokyo: NHK, 2000); Amino Yoshihiko, ed. Edojidai no mikataga kawaruho (Tokyo: Yosensha, 1998).


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