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The Sound of Waves

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  4,972 ratings  ·  450 reviews
Set in a remote fishing village in Japan, The Sound of Waves is a timeless story of first love. It tells of Shinji, a young fisherman and Hatsue, the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in the village. Shinji is entranced at the sight of Hatsue in the twilight on the beach and they fall in love. When the villagers' gossip threatens to divide them, Shinji must risk his ...more
Paperback, 183 pages
Published 2000 by Vintage Classics (first published 1954)
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Best Japanese Books
48th out of 448 books — 1,933 voters
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The Best of Yukio Mishima
7th out of 20 books — 38 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 11, 2011 Mariel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dream land
Recommended to Mariel by: I think I love Yukio Mishima now
I'm probably crazy and am imagining a considering feeling between Yukio Mishima and me. I'm feeling like he's a kindred spirit kind of author who wants the same kinds of things that I wanted. (Past tense, I mean. For him, not me. I want.)

Pretend I'm not crazy. What if The Sound of Waves was a beautiful story about young love between two young and loving individuals? Shinji, a simple guy who liked simple, pure at heart things like providing for his family and village. Not simple life stuff like

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

The most enduring stories are often very simple. Boy meets girl, they like each other, the world conspires to drive them apart, they remain faithful to each other and, in the end, they may be reunited or forever alone. His name is Shinji, her name is Hatsue, but for most of the book they are referred to as 'the boy' and 'the girl'. The boy is a poor fisherman whose father has been kille
Clearly, breasts fascinated Mishima. Now that we’ve established this (or rather he did through a couple of scenes and descriptions)…

This is a story that embraces modern sexuality and teenage angst, a love story involving a young fisherman, Shinji, and a rich man’s daughter named Hatsue. Where there is love, there is rivalry, for Shinji must deal with another boy who feels entitled to Hatsue. As a result, conflict and gossip ensues and though deeply in love, Shinji and Hatsue find themselves cons
Oct 31, 2014 Taylor rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, esp. fans of Murakami, people looking to try asian literature
Instead of reading the classics that most people read during their junior year of high school, we read stuff like this. Which, truth be told, is perfectly okay with me, because this is an absolutely stunning novel that I probably never would've read if it weren't for my International Baccalaureate program.

The book centers around a young teen romance that seems destined to never be achieved - yes, a typical plot, but it is approached so atypically by Mishima. He writes in a style not too unlike t
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

This is the incongruity between happiness and sadness. Ecstacy, which is happiness in in its most extreme, does not bring one to anywhere beyond life. He will still be alive, as before, maybe more uplifted, in a walking-in-the-clouds kind of joy but that'd be it. In contrast, sadness in its most extreme often brings suicide as an option Not only can death be desired, it can actually be realized. Not even the possibility of future happiness can rescue the man.

We know, of course, that Yukio Mishim
I came into The Sound of Waves directly after reading Mishima's The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea, and the contrast was jarring. In The Sound of Waves, Mishima’s fetish for manliness is leeched of the corrupting influences that pervert the protagonist, Noboru, in The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea. Mishima paints the setting of Uta-Jima as an idyllic microcosm of the traditional Japan that he seems to yearn for. In general, the plot mirrors the idealism of the setting by parin ...more
April Hayes
As unabashedly delicious and pervy as one of those really good/bad Aussie teen soaps from the early ‘90s, but written by a literary and philosophical genius.

I love how Mishima just dashed off all these pulp novellas throughout his career, in between his masterworks, but didn’t accord them any less respect, attention, or craft. It’s like if Tolstoy, between "Anna Karenina" and "The Death of Ivan Ilyich," decided to write steamy young adult fiction or gay soldier stories, and you could buy them at
Salah Eddine Ghamri
What a novel ?! oh my God , how gentle and high moral was the characters !! it was really amazing story of a first love between two innocent good spirits , i loved Japan through this book , and Yukio Mishima's description of scenes makes you really hear the sound of waves love love love .
Gertrude & Victoria
Mishima Yukio's novella, The Sound of Waves, is thought to have been inspired by the Daphnis and Chloe myth of Greek origin. The influence may be most evident in the choice of theme and style. In this beautiful work, also his most accessible, the theme of first love is explored with grace and delicacy - a sensation of being swept up by cool waves under warm and brilliant skies permeates the spirit.

This novella is different from most of Mishima's other works. It is not about latent destructive te
Ms. Jones
When I first began the school year teaching Global Lit, this was one of the texts I most looked forward to teaching. For one thing, I really enjoy reading novels and for another, this is a beautifully-written one. It reminds me of teaching the juniors last year and reading Ragtime in preparation to teach it.

There are undoubtedly heartbreaking moments in this story. There are also incredible subtleties that make re-reading it really enjoyable. Mishima uses nature metaphors vivid and often, and w
The Sound of the Waves is one of the best books i have read. it may be short but it shows how confidence is rewarding and that anything is possible in life despite the odds. This novel is about a love triangle, or some may say a love square, but no matter how many obstacles were put into the protagonist's way, his love was successful at the end. The protagonist, named Shinji, was a fishermen, but then he came across a wealthy girl named Hatsue and falls in love. The odds were against him; everyo ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Sarah added it
Set on a small Island in Japan The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima is a story about the ocean, fishing, the gossip of everyday life, and love. The paths of a young and not so wealthy fisherman, Shinji, and the daughter of the wealthiest man on the island, Hatsue, cross and afterwards neither of their lives are the same. They fall in love but because of high expectations and Hatsue’s father has for her, they must keep their interactions a secret. The Sound of Waves was originally written in Japan ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Matt added it
A prelude to a tragedy that never comes, The Sound of Waves presents a story as standard as myth--the rich girl arrives from another island, the peasant fishing boy falls in love, the girl's rich father opposes their match, the boy proves his fitness as a husband though an act of strength and bravery--and does so without a falter or hiccup, or even a wrinkle or complication. There are, as you might guess, pluses and minuses to this approach; the book ends up the kind of easy read we might labe ...more
Russell Bittner
I wish I could add my own bit of praise to the undiluted encomium of most of the reviewers here and at Amazon for The Sound of Waves, but I can’t. And although Meredith (“Tex”) Weatherby may not have the credentials of Yasunari Kawabata’s translator (Howard Scott Hibbett), I have to believe that Mr. Weatherby knew what he was doing. And so, I’ll humbly accept that I simply don’t have the requisite disposition for Eastern literature, inasmuch as my reaction to Kawabata’s work was equally tepid.

What a lovely, gentle book! So refreshing to read of first love that is simple and pure. So many of the books I've read of late have a rather harsh view of life. This is a gentle tale, set in a remote fishing village in Japan.

I loved the descriptions of village life, of the island and of the blossoming of love. So different from all the anime coming out of Japan now.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was my first Mishima book, and I really enjoyed it.

Like much of Japanese art, this book is a study in understatement. This works very well for the story, given how essentially simple it is.

The simplicity should not, however, be confused with a lack of depth or artistry. The tale of the two young lovers in this story - Shinji and Hatsue - exhibits very real and very honest emotion. The amazing thing is how these elements are blended with other, larger ones.

The basic tale is the stuff of myt
André Benjamim
Durante anos procurei O Tumulto das Ondas, de Yukio Mishima, de que lera um excerto nas aulas de Português. Estava sempre esgotado. Perguntava se podiam encomendar à editora, mas nunca mostravam grande vontade. Por isso acabei por comprar outras obras de Yukio Mishima, antes de conseguir finalmente um exemplar de O Tumulto das Ondas.
Foi numa tarde de ócio em que cirandava pela cidade, e entrei numa livraria recentemente inaugurada. Andava por entre as estantes a observar os títulos, e a cogitar
Awalnya ngeliat buku ini tergeletak di lemari sih bawaannya males begitu bosennya keluar gara2 blm bisa ngebeli buku baru buat dibaca, akhirnya dilirik juga hahaha..
sekadar info aja, Ini buku yang ditinggal mati oleh pengarangnya dengan cara bunuh diri..=.=, Yukio Mishima, ini cewek apa cowok ya, bunuh diri dalam usia 45 tahun.

Kisahnya tentang percintaan seorang pemuda nelayan miskin dan seorang gadis kaya di sebuah desa nelayan di pesisir Jepang yang terpencil,yang mengalami cobaan ke
Reading "The Sound of Waves" by Yukio Mishima was a bit different from his style due to his narrations on an island called Utah-Jima, its inhabitants and the waves as we are likely to perceive them as eternal phenomena, that is, something taken for granted with less changes. All living or natural there might bore us at first sight of this interesting novel but Mishima could make it for his readers by means of his exceptional literary expertise. I don't know Japanese so I presumed 'Song Island' a ...more
Greg Heaney
I’m not one for feel good stories. To me, literature is all about engaging and expanding the mind, and not many fairy tale endings get you thinking about much. In high school, I was the Hamlet guy, while all the girls were more Midsummer Night’s Dream. Till now, I might have said that a love story with a happy ending would never mean as much as a Romeo and Juliet tragedy. The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima made me a believer.

The story is the most familiar one in the world. A young boy, Shinji,
S. Thomas
I love novels that tell complete stories in less than 200 pages and without a book two, book three, etc. So I admit I was biased from the start. The Sound of Waves is a simple love story. But it also introduces the reader into the culture of a small Japanese fishing community on Uta Island. And at the same time the story touches on universal truths like "love conquers all" and "honesty is the best policy". I think much can be summed up by the Shinji, the main character's prayer early in the stor ...more
This was the first Mishima book that I read and it surprised me. I'm a Japanophile which means if it concerns Japanese culture it will most likely spark my interest. Such as if I see an author in Books A Million whose name comes from the East I will pick it up for three reasons: 1.) The story has drawn me in. 2.) If I don't get it now, I'll probably never see it again. 3.) I need to feed my addiction.

Sadly, I had to order this instead of picking it up in a book store. It's sad because of the li
Ok, so I know everyone is gushing about how descriptive and beautiful Mishima's writing is, and I can't speak to his writing in general - since I've never read any of his other books - but to me, personally, his writing in this one seemed terrible. Now, I'm sure that it did lose something in translation, but since I don't know Japanese, I'll have to base my review on the English version. I found his descriptions muddled and unclear - I could barely picture anything he was saying. The writing did ...more
This was my 2nd Mishima novel. I loved most of the first one, Thirst for Love. It was problematic in structure, especially the latter half. But there were many great phrases, descriptions, psychological insights. The entire flashback of the wife nursing with strange relish her husband to his death is fascinating-- incredible, really. I highly recommend that flawed but compelling book.

"The Sound of Waves" has none of that brilliance. It's a simply told story. Clean enough. And interesting the way
Jay McNair
Boy meets girl on the small island of Uta-jima in the fishing straits of Japan. Timeless setting; I liked getting to experience life on Uta-jima. Beautiful black-and-white drawings to start each chapter. Ending somehow didn't fit too well though.

Shinji's mother: "Like her son, she too went to take counsel with the sea whenever she had something to think about." Me three.

This is the first book I've read in one day in some time.

Very nice portraits of all the characters. Jukichi, the old man whose
John Levi Masuli
A typical love story told in the most untypical manner. It is about a young fisherman's romantic exploits with a young woman, among other things. Yet, this is Mishima doing the tritest of jobs. The novel's final lines for the supposedly 'happy ending' might give you an idea of what I am trying to say:

"Hatsue touched the picture lightly with her own hand and then returned it. Her eyes were full of pride. She was thinking it was her picture that had protected Shinji.
But at this moment Shinji lifte
Steve Woods
Even in translation, Mishima has to number amongst the best 5 novelists I have ever read. Reading one of his works is like eating a sublime piece of poetry, slowly. This book is about a relationship between to teenagers on a remote Japanese island just after the war. Mishima is the master at exploring the deepest of human responses to life and the master at evocation of a society now long gone. Everything he has written has the same intensity interwoven with the absolutely commonplace and I have ...more
Darrel Bailey
I liked this. Very simple and tender young love story attempting to simultaneously describe the beautiful tranquility and hardship that comes with being a poor young fisherman in Uta-Jima. That, and breasts. Very, very in-depth descriptions of breasts...

Short and sweet if you're curious about Mishima-sensei
It's a small island and like a small town everyone knows everyone. When a young woman comes to the island and the village the young men take notice, Shinji among them. He is shy, poor, handsome and hard working but finds that he cannot forget her. When he finally meets Hatsue he wants to spend whatever time he can with her. However, her father is among the wealthier of the island and hopes for a better match than a poor orphan boy. Jealousy rears its ugly force and separates them as the gossip s ...more
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JIS Dragon Readers: The Sound of Waves 2 9 Apr 05, 2013 12:21AM  
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the ending (with spoiler...) 5 60 Jun 09, 2009 07:11AM  
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  • Black Rain
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Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka (平岡 公威) who was a Japanese author, poet and playwright, famous for both his highly notable post-war writings and the circumstances of his ritual suicide by seppuku.

Mishima wrote 40 novels, 18 plays, 20 books of short stories, and at least 20 books of essays, one libretto, as well as one film. A large portion of this oeuvre comprises books
More about Yukio Mishima...
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea Spring Snow Confessions of a Mask The Temple of the Golden Pavilion Runaway Horses

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“He heard the sound of waves striking the shore, and it was as though the surging of his young blood was keeping time with the movement of the sea's great tides. It was doubtless because nature itself satisfied his need that Shinji felt no particular lack of music in his everyday life.” 6 likes
“In the pale light of daybreak the gravestones looked like so many white sails that would never again be filled with wind, sails that, too long unused and heavily drooping, had been turned into stone just as they were. The boats' anchors had been thrust so deeply into the dark earth that they could never again be raised.” 2 likes
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