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Spring Snow

(The Sea of Fertility #1)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  12,719 ratings  ·  963 reviews
Tokyo, 1912. The closed world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders - rich provincial families, a new and powerful political and social elite.

Kiyoaki has been raised among the elegant Ayakura family - members of the waning aristocracy - but he is not one of them. Coming of age, he is caught up in the tensions between the old and the n
Paperback, 389 pages
Published November 2000 by Vintage (first published 1968)
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Morgan I'm currently reading this book and I would say read his short stories first. Maybe try to find "Patriotism" since that's the first one I started. He'…moreI'm currently reading this book and I would say read his short stories first. Maybe try to find "Patriotism" since that's the first one I started. He's an amazing writer, but heavy. I haven't read Murakami yet, so I can't tell you about that. The author I'd compare Mishima the most with in an odd way is an extreme male version of Virginia Woolf. Two writers who couldn't seem fit in and decided to take there own life. However, Mishima is more violent, but in a beautiful poetic kind of way.(less)
Tijl Vandersteene I don't think he's dumb. He's not interested or motivated, but that's something else. Because his social background he can afford to be lazy in school…moreI don't think he's dumb. He's not interested or motivated, but that's something else. Because his social background he can afford to be lazy in school, he will have a good life anyway. This leaves him time to dream and fool around and be romantic, too romantic. I think this is an important line of thought, an important issue in the story of Kiyoaki. He has an unrealistic view on life and love, which causes a lot of the problems. He struggles with his own way of life, he does not really see a meaning to life. Only when it's too late (for his child, Satoko and himself) he realizes there was something to live for. (less)

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Jim Fonseca
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mishima (1925-1970) was a classic Japanese author. He was a fierce anti-communist who led a band of rebels trying to restore the Emperor. He committed ritual suicide when the plot failed. His best-known work is a tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility, of which this book is the first volume.

Class divisions and changing values in Japan due to western influence aree major themes. The main character is the son of a very wealthy family. How wealthy? They have 40 servants and the boy doesn’t know all their
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-japanese
Yukio Mishima felt the Japanese government needed to return to a system based on the samurai code. He was descended from samarais and believed that this code, advocating complete command of one's body and soul combined with a complete loyalty to the emperor, was necessary for Japan to return to prominence. He formed his own army in 1970 and attempted a coup d'état. With a few friends he overpowered the commandant of the Ichigaya Camp — the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of Japan's Sel ...more
Set near Tokyo in 1912. In Spring Snow Kiyoaki Matsugae is sent as a child be raised on the estate of a Count where he learns all the worst habits of a decadent court. He is slothful, he preens in the knowledge of his superior looks. When 18 years of age he is so self-involved—the familiar disaffectedness of many Mishima protagonists—that even when kissing the woman who loves him he thinks only of how he feels. He's an affected asshole who takes a conscious pleasure in cruelty.
This . . . was fur
Adam Dalva
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant first salvo in the Sea of Fertility tetralogy, setting up questions of reincarnation, cultural continuity, and faith while working as a stand-alone novel. I'm curious to continue my journey through these books - they are an odd mixture of the researched nostalgia of the Ferrante series and the self-sufficient decade spanning approach of the Rabbits or the Zuckermans. I always enjoy reading Mishima, but the gentleness and frequent, Austenian (!) humor of Spring Snow surprised me. It's ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
春の雪 [Haru no Yuki] = Spring Snow (The Sea of Fertility, Book 1), Yukio Mishima

Spring Snow is a novel by Yukio Mishima, the first in his Sea of Fertility tetralogy. It was published serially in Shinchō from 1965 to 1967, and then in book form in 1969.

The novel is set in the early years of the Taishō period with the reign of the Emperor Taishō, and is about the relationship between Kiyoaki Matsugae, the son of a rising new rich family, and Satoko Ayakura, the daughter of an aristocratic family fa
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Spring Snow” is volume one of Yukio Mishima’s tetralogy ‘The Sea of Fertility”. When the book opens the year is 1912 and the setting Meiji Japan, which has given way to "Taisho democracy", an environment is that of a fading Japanese aristocracy resigned to accept into its midst the creep of a westernization of it’s culture.

Adolescent law student Shigekuni Honda is an impassive friend to Kiyoaki Matsugae, a baron's son of distant samurai descent. Honda's future seems preordained. Kiyoaki is a d
Michael Finocchiaro
It is hard to put words to the beauty and melancholy that Mishima pours into this first of his great tetralogy. The symbolism, the imagery, the characters - everything here is drawn with a fine pencil and eye for detail. The characters reappear in the following books but not as you might expect. This is one of the great monuments of Japanese literature in the 20th C (my other favourite is Soseki's I am a Cat) and it is truly a pleasure to read and savour. ...more
Mar 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
Mishima, like other great writers, has a way of implanting memories in our heads, echoes of other lives. How this magic happens is a mystery but when it does, you feel somehow denser inside, more solid. Spring Snow left me with that feeling, of having increased my gravity and weight, with the lyrical descriptions, history, characters, ceremonies, letters, political intrigue, birds and emerald rings and emerald snakes, and silk kimonos, and more.

At its heart, this is a doomed love story, about t
Jr Bacdayan
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A book can be either of two things: a key to open locked doors which lead to unique experiences we have not encountered or are impossible for us to attain; while the other is a mirror to show us who we are or remind us of ourselves and the past we have not forgotten. One stirs excitement, the other nostalgia. This time it took the shape of the latter. The book served as a mirror to me, reminding me of a befuddled young man blind to the workings of his heart, prone to exaggerating the simple nuan ...more
4 and a half stars.

When I read a translated book, I'm always very conscious that what I'm reading is not necessarily what the author meant to write: I'm reading a book that's very much like what the author wrote but not really the same. I have no idea what Mishima's book is like in the original Japanese, but if this translation is anything like it, the beauty of the prose in Japanese must be devastating.

The story of Kioyaki and Satoko is, in and of itself, not remarkable: forbidden loves, especi
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bitchin
Has there ever been a stranger novelist than Yukio Mishima? On the one hand, he was a body-building Nationalist, who advocated bushido, the samurai code; he also, as many know, committed seppuku, which is a ritual form of suicide involving disembowelling and beheading. You don’t, it is fair to say, get that kind of thing with Julian Barnes and Karl Ove Knausgaard.


On the other hand, Mishima was undeniably a cultured man, who spoke English and dressed in the English fashion; he was a bisexual who
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indispensable
“Oddly enough, living only for one’s emotions, like a flag obedient to the breeze, demands a way of life that makes one balk at the natural course of events, for this implies being altogether subservient to nature. The life of the emotions detests all constraints, whatever their origin, and thus, ironically enough, is apt eventually to fetter its own instinctive sense of freedom.”

- Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow

After finishing this supreme piece of fiction (the first of the tetralogy The Sea of Fer
The world is your oyster, or is it?

Overhead the albatross
Hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
An echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine

Echoes - Pink Floyd


Spring Snow = Neige de printemps

First novel in the Sea of fertility tetralogy, Spring Snow tells the story of the love between young marquis Kiyoaki Matsugae and young countess Satoko Ayakura. However, this is not your typical i
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once you start reading Mishima, and becoming absorbed with his characters, you are caught in a web that resembles the web he reveals his own characters are enmeshed in. His characters are so tragic, yet so ordinary; so privileged, yet so doomed; so foolish, yet so much more introspective than you. Spring Snow was one of the best books I have ever read. Mishima is like a surgeon; the tip of his needle or scalpel so fine, so pointed, that he can isolate the most fleeting, awkward, and yet noble em ...more
Joel Palma
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, japanese
Hands down, my favorite Japanese novel to date!!!

I can only but sigh finishing reading this masterpiece by Yukio Mishima. I am much overwhelmed by this beautifully poignant book that will surely tugs the heart of any reader.

So gorgeously written that demands to be read slow (not because one is intimidated to do so but it is such a beauty to relish every word written, I call it the "Mishima magic") and, indeed, Proustian in its rendition- as universal and constant as the waves of the sea, the int
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, 2017-read
A love story that reflects the struggles within Japanese culture brought about by the westernization at the beginning of the 20th century – Mishima, you’re a genius. On the surface, the content of the book could be summed up like this: The young Kiyoaki, born into a family that has recently come to accumulate considerable wealth, grew up with Satoko, the daughter of an old aristocratic family struggling with monetary problems. It is only when Satoko gets engaged to an Imperial prince that Kiyoak ...more

Description: Tokyo, 1912. The closed world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time by outsiders - rich provincial families, a new and powerful political and social elite.

Kiyoaki has been raised among the elegant Ayakura family - members of the waning aristocracy - but he is not one of them. Coming of age, he is caught up in the tensions between old and new, and his feelings for the exquisite, spirited Satoko, observed from the sidelines by his devoted friend Honda. When S
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's kinda sad tbh ngl ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Just as a stream returns to its normal course after a flood, Kiyoaki's predilection for suffering began to reassert itself."

"At that moment she held an irresistible attraction for him... it was the lure of the forbidden, the utterly unattainable, the proscribed. He wanted her in this way and no other."

Set in Japan in 1912, after the Russo-Japanese War Spring Snow captures a society in flux in startlingly crisp prose.

"Beautiful, elegant, imposing, she was like a flower at its moment of perfect
Sep 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
the first in mishima's tetralogy and, so far, the best (i'm in the middle of the third). on its own, Spring Snow is easily one of the most tender love stories i've read -- but it cannot be considered on its own: as honda watches a friend reincarnated several times over the span of several novels, it all adds up to even more than the sum of its extraordinary parts. in the USA, this'd play out as gimmick; in japan (shinto, buddhism, etc.) it is the assumption. an exploration of history, the philos ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most important -- and used -- word in this book of historical fiction has to be 'elegant' (and its variations). And while the prose style itself is always elegant, the elegance of the ancient aristocracy is not always a good thing, as mostly it seems to be ineffective, even useless, for the situations the characters find themselves in. Those with 'new-money' have the power, but the novelist seems to like them even less than he does the aristocrats. (Even so, all the characters are well-round ...more
Matthew Appleton
56th book of 2020.

Finally finished. This book was one to be savoured. As my fifth Mishima book, though not my favourite (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion still holds that title), I think the language in this one has been the best so far. Nothing short of beautiful. Every sentence seems to have been thought about, crafted, weighted... Mesmerising descriptions, both of the external worlds and internal emotions of the characters.

The only reason this hasn't become my favourite Mishima, or become a
This is a subtle, intelligent, sensitive, perceptive book. But it's also a little boring.

It has some spectacular moments! Tadeshina is a terrific character in the mold of the nurse from Romeo & Juliet, and her makeup is probably the best character in the book. And there's a scene involving Kiyoaki's nipple that's terrifically gay.

This may have been one of those cases where it was the wrong book at the wrong time. I wasn't prepared for something I had to immerse myself in at a Proustian level, b
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even when we're with someone we love, we're foolish enough to think of her body and soul as being separate. To stand before the person we love is not the same as loving her true self, for we are only apt to regard her physical beauty as the indispensable mode of her existence. When time and space intervene, it is possible to be deceived by both, but on the other hand, it is equally possible to draw twice as close to her real self.

Delectable writing, disturbing characters; what a mixture.

* Review
At first, I was attracted by the beautiful imagery, but it soon became overshadowed by its very spoiled, incredibly narcissistic, and highly unlikeable protagonist; every gesture of his and every thought is endlessly dissected until you get bored and have to put the book down. As I progressed it became even more tedious: I don't skip descriptive passages or skim-read to get to the dialogue, which isn't much, to begin with: I generally read and relish in every word on the page, but then I get thr ...more
A novel I can scarcely find positive or negative words for, not until I finish the rest of the books in the Sea of Fertility trilogy do I see myself being able to articulate a position on how well they stand up to criticism, but my thoughts as of just finishing Spring Snow, here's what I have to say. To me, Mishima's characters are passionate, shadowy beings, their thoughts are revealing speculations on their own deepest feelings, and they haunted by this constancy of self-consciousness amidst t ...more
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-fiction
This book is, in my opinion, without a doubt, the greatest love story ever told. I don't care what you think about any of the classics, anything you've read before, be it Austen or Shakespeare or the Greeks. The poetic brilliance and tragic self-destruction of love in this book chills me. Even in translation, this piece was the bane of my existence for the length of time I spent reading it - a fair amount for it's length of 400 pages.

Mishima is one of the few authors I've read recently who asto
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (20
Shelves: 501
A story of young tragic love. If you strip the plot to its barest, two young children grew up together. The girl was 2 years older. At 21, she showed affection to the boy but the boy was immature enough to brush it off. At that age and time in Japan, 21 was already old so her parents arranged her to be married to an Imperial prince. After she was betrothed, the boy changed his mind, chased the girl, got her pregnant. Again, during that time in Japan, it was a mortal sin to commit such act to the ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
"The only thing that seemed valid to him was to live for the emotions - gratuitous and unstable, dying only to quicken again, dwindling and flaring without direction or purpose." (15)
I approached Mishima at perhaps an unusual angle, reading first his novel Confessions of a Mask, followed by a collection of his Nō Plays and then his stories. I now thought it was time to read Spring Snow, the first book in his The Sea of Fertility tetralogy (upon completion of which, on 25 November, 1970, Mishima
Nancy Oakes
Now on to Runaway Horses. Since it's virtually one story, I'll post about all 4 at the end.

I loved it.
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Yukio Mishima (三島 由紀夫) was born in Tokyo in 1925. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University’s School of Jurisprudence in 1947. His first published book, The Forest in Full Bloom, appeared in 1944 and he established himself as a major author with Confessions of a Mask (1949). From then until his death he continued to publish novels, short stories, and plays each year. His crowning achievement, th ...more

Other books in the series

The Sea of Fertility (4 books)
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  • The Decay of the Angel

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“Dreams, memories, the sacred--they are all alike in that they are beyond our grasp. Once we are even marginally separated from what we can touch, the object is sanctified; it acquires the beauty of the unattainable, the quality of the miraculous. Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch. How strange man is! His touch defiles and yet he contains the source of miracles.” 373 likes
“Time is what matters. As time goes by, you and I will be carried inexorably into the mainstream of our period, even though we’re unaware of what it is. And later, when they say that young men in the early Taisho era thought, dressed, talked, in such and such a way, they’ll be talking about you and me. We’ll all be lumped together…. In a few decades, people will see you and the people you despise as one and the same, a single entity.” 79 likes
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