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Spring Snow

(The Sea of Fertility #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  10,942 ratings  ·  792 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
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.…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)
Bipasha This novel works mainly because of three reasons. firstly, it is written by a male Japanese author, which means that it will be dominated by a…moreThis novel works mainly because of three reasons. firstly, it is written by a male Japanese author, which means that it will be dominated by a one-sided perspective - that of the male lover. This point could not be made clearer from the handling of the female characters whom Mishima does his best to objectify, and if it is a woman of lower social class, then she can be very easily demonized or turned into a prostitute who is glad to be raped by random men - consider the cases of the minor characters Tomi and Mine. This also means that the sordid consequences of Kiyoaki's flings can easily be overlooked. Much mourning is done for his sadness after the events which makes him unable to notice his own good looks(!), but not much attention is given to Satoko who must undergo an abortion and a disruption in her old way of life, having to give up pretty much everything.
Secondly, the story is set among aristocrats, which makes it natural that their transgressions will only be treated with a cursory glance. All of the male aristocratic characters are promiscuous. In the novel it is even hinted that the more promiscuous the men are the better. Young men in the peers, the Marquis, the Prince make a boast of having sex. Iinuma, on the other hand, faces the consequences of his actions.
Thirdly, Mishima uses the familiar trope of 'Tale of Genji', mere ordinary mortals(in respect to the sun goddess-descendant royalty) challenging the masculinity of the imperial male through sex with their desired female.
( Fourthly, a tentative guess, Japan may have something for dumb homosexually appealing males. I don't know how else can anyone plough through the massive 'tale of Genji' whose protagonist Genji is basically, like Kiyoaki, the spoilt brat of chauvinist patriarchal aristocracy.)(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 ...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
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
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.
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
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 ...more
Luís C.
The first novel in Yukio Mishima's famous tetralogy, "Spring Snow" is the story of Kiyoaki, the only son of the new noble Marquis and Marquise Matsugae and owners of a magnificent forty-hectare estate not far from Tokyo.
The Marquis placed his son from an early age in an aristocratic family, the Ayakura, where he was raised in an atmosphere of court nobility near the whimsical and very beautiful Satoko Ayakura two years his senior. Not yet a major and now at his parents' house, Kiyoaki was 18
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
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,
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
春の雪 [Haru no Yuki] = Spring Snow (The Sea of Fertility, Book 1), Yukio Mishima
Spring Snow (春の雪 Haru no Yuki) 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 nouveau-riche family, and Satoko Ayakura, the daughter of
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 ...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
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
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 ...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
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 ...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 ...more
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
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's kinda sad tbh ngl
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
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
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
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
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spring Snow starts at a slow pace. The book takes its time introducing you to the gravity of its characters, and the careful relationships between each, and it's only after building this interweaving world of a precariously balanced harmony, that Mishima spins that world out of control with a simple love affair, and the ensuing chaos.

What I enjoyed most about Spring Snow was following how each character responds to their universe spinning wildly out of control - some by trying desperately to
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The blending of Buddhist philosophy, reincarnation theory, beautiful prose descriptors of the environment that surrounds these characters, as well as an engrossing storyline that effectively examines a changing Japanese society (Traditional vs Westernisation) really just hits my sweet spot. Loved it. Runaway Horses is in the mail. For now, back the Dying Grass..
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Over the years, I've read and enjoyed many Japanese writers, but somehow managed to neglect Mishima. About a year ago I decided to rectify the situation and bought his Confessions of a Mask and the first two volumes of his Sea of Fertility tetralogy. So far, this has been a BIG mistake.

Confessions of a Mask was more boring - if you can imagine it - than Proust yammering on and on about Madame Swann in the tiresome tome, In The Shadow of Young Girls in Flower... a special torture for any
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is much more lush and descriptive than the other Mishima I've read. The dark, intense psychology that he usually examines is, in Spring Snow, much more rooted in lush, sensual descriptions of Matsuge and Honda's external world. An old war photograph, a cloth falling off of a table, the way light plays over the face of a waterfall, etc, Mishima is able to forge rich emotional states around such images and to make them react and magnify each other.

Almost every page in this book has some
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pardon me whilst I recover from the last sentence in the book.
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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, ...more

Other books in the series

The Sea of Fertility (4 books)
  • Runaway Horses
  • The Temple of Dawn
  • The Decay of the Angel
“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.” 335 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.” 71 likes
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