Yukio Mishima - Biography
Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) was a Japanese novelist, playwright, actor, film director, and poet. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature three times. Yukio Mishima obtained international fame and is generally agreed to be one of the most significant Japanese authors of the twentieth century. He was a prolific writer and wrote many pieces solely for profit. His creative catalog includes one film, one libretto, eighteen plays, twenty books of essays, twenty books of short fiction and forty novels. His most significant work exploited modern literary stylistics with traditional Japanese elements. He also addressed modern configurations of sexuality and mortality in his writing. He was awarded the Shincho Prize, Kishida Prize for Drama, Yomiuri Prize for best novel, and Yomiuri Prize for best drama.
On January 14, 1925, Yukio Mishima was born in Kimitake Hiraoka near Tokyo. His father worked as a government official. As a child, Yukio Mishima’s life was dominated by his grandmother Natsu. Yukio Mishima’s grandmother separated him from his family for many years of his long life. Natsu grew up in the household of Prince Arisugawa Taruhito. This upbringing gave Natsu an aristocratic air, despite the fact she married a bureaucrat who gained his wealth in territories invaded by Japan. Yukio Mishima’s grandmother prevented the boy from playing sports. Yukio Mishima was left to play with his girl cousins. Yukio Mishima’s father feared that he was becoming overly feminine. He would often destroy the boy’s early attempts at literature—Yukio Mishima’s father viewed such endeavors to be unmanly.
Yukio Mishima attended Peers School when he was six years old. By the time, Yukio Mishima was an avid reader. He closely studied classic Japanese writers, but he also was fascinated by the works of Rainer Maria Rilke and Oscar Wilde. Inspired by the Japanese poet Michizō Tachihara, Yukio Mishima wrote waka style poems. Yukio Mishima’s first published works were in this classical style. Yukio Mishima wrote a short story for the literary magazine at Peers’ School. His instructors were so impressed with the boy’s writing they encouraged him to seek publication in the journal Literary Culture. His teachers crafted the nom-de-plume “Yukio Mishima” to protect the boy from ridicule from his schoolmates.
At the beginning of World War II, Yukio Mishima was given notice he was to report for the draft of the Imperial Japanese Army. When he appeared before the medical board, he was ill. He lied to the doctors by telling them he had the signs of tuberculosis. He was release from service since the doctors believed his deception. Yukio Mishima began studying at the University of Tokyo. Although his days were devoted to his academic pursuits, his nights were spent busily writing. He graduated in 1947. Shortly after his graduation, Yukio Mishima received a post in the Finance Ministry. Mishima had exhausted himself within the first year of his governmental appointment. He resigned to focus on his writing career.
The writing from this post-war period included serialized novellas, short fiction, essays, novels and contemporary versions of Kabuki and Noh drama. In 1948, Yukio Mishima wrote Confessions of a Mask, a compelling novel of a young man who must navigate between mainstream society and his homosexual desires. Many of his works were translated into European languages and Mishima gained a reputation as a significant talent in both Europe and America. By the age of 24, Yukio Mishima had become a celebrity. Despite his fame and his subsequent nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature, once Kawabata was awarded the prize Yukio Mishima understood that the chances of a second Japanese citizen winning was negligible.
In 1952, Yukio Mishima traveled to Greece. He had long desired to see the seat of Classical Western culture. This trip coupled with the legend of Daphnis and Chloe inspired the creation of Mishima’s novel Sound of the Waves. This novel found its way to print in 1954.
Yukio Mishima’s written work also drew inspiration from contemporary events. His novel The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, published in 1956, was fuled by the burning of the famous Kyoto Temple.
Yukio Mishima started weight training in 1955. His rigorous weekly regimes continued until his death. Mishima also become an avid and skillful practitioner of kendo. Despite his earlier flight from military service, Yukio Mishima would be known for his political support for a re-militarized Japan. Yukio Mishima became a part of the Ground Self Defense Force and went through the training process in 1967. In 1968, Yukio Mishim uses his reputation and his martial training to found the Tatenokai or the Shield Society. This paramilitary organization swore their loyalty to the abstract notion of the Voices of the Heroic Dead. Mishima supported Japanese Nationalism but was greatly angered by Emperor Hirohito’s renunciation of imperial divinity.
In 1958, Yukio Mishima married Yoko Sugiyama. The following year, Yoko gave birth to a daughter named Noriko and four years later Yoko gave birth to a son named Ichiro. Yukio Mishima frequented gay bars. But many people (including Mishima’s widow) have tried to obfuscate the fact of his homosexual activities. This obfuscation has failed to prevent many of Mishima’s male lovers from coming forward. Yukio Mishima’s children have joined in the effort to prevent Mishima’s full sexuality from becoming apparent by suing people who acknowledge these relationships.
Yukio Mishima followed a radical set of political beliefs. Left wing members of society detested his anarchistic commitment to his interpretation of the samurai code, bushido. The Right wing were contemptuous of Yukio Mishima’s declaration that Emperor Hirohito should have resigned from the Chrysanthemum Throne.
In 1960, Yukio Mishima starred in Yasuzo Masumura film Afraid to Die. He followed this role with roles in the 1966 movie Yukoku, the 1968 movie Black Lizard, and the 1969 movie Hitokiri. In addition to Yukio Mishima’s acting work, he worked as a model. Most famously, Eikoh Hosoe photographed Yukio Mishima for the work Ba-Ra-Kei: Ordeal by Roses. Yukio Mishima also modeled for Tamotsu Yato OTOKO: Photo Studies of the Young Japanese Male and Young Samurai: Bodybuilders of Japan.
Yukio Mishima led four Tatenokai members to the Ichigaya Camp of the Self-Defense Forces of Japan. This camp was located in Tokyo. Yukio Mishima was allowed access to the camp in the belief that he was going to lead his men to a meeting with the camp commander. The five men bound the commander to his chair and unfurled a banner, which listed their demands. In addition, Yukio Mishima had prepared a manifesto to clarify their political beliefs. Yukio Mishima wanted to inspire the soldiers into rising up and overthrowing the government. However, Yukio Mishima was not able to convince the Self-Defense Forces to come over to his side. As he finished his speech, the defense forces booed him.
Yukio Mishima returned to the commander’s office. He committed seppuku. His men were supposed to perform the role of kaishakunin, to alleviate Yukio Mishima’s suffering. Unfortunately, they failed over many times before succeeding. The bungling of the suicide was ill-fitting for an event the Yukio Mishima had planned for over a year. The members of the paramilitary group were chosen for their loyalty; Yukio Mishima made sure that their legal defense fees would be paid before the action. Some critics believe that the attempt at instigating a military coup was merely a pretext for the writer’s suicide.