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The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
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David Haws In the first chapter, Mizoguchi says that his father is wearing a “wartime civilian uniform” under his priest’s robe. Would this have been common (civilian uniforms) and what was it like (was it official/unofficial, partial like a Mao jacket or a “Land Girl” sweater, or complete)? Did it replace Japanese wear (着物) in the home?

David Haws Mizoguchi tells us that the able-bodied monks were all drafted into the Imperial Army. Were they given combat duty, or would they have been put in clerical positions? Did the Imperial Army accept women volunteers? At school, didn’t Japanese women have the same military training as men (剣道, that kind of stuff)?

David Haws So, I read about Mishima’s staged coup and suicide. Was he maybe a little nuts? It certainly wouldn’t detract from the quality of his writing, any more than it detracts from Nietzsche's.

message 4: by Kiyomi (last edited Nov 12, 2011 12:46AM) (new) - added it

Kiyomi | 60 comments David wrote: "So, I read about Mishima’s staged coup and suicide. Was he maybe a little nuts? It certainly wouldn’t detract from the quality of his writing, any more than it detracts from Nietzsche's."

I heard Mr Mishima had wanted to give power back to the Emperor like old days by asking the Defense Forces to cooperate. Since the forces didn't agree, I think he killed himself as a samurai would do in respectable defeat. No one knows the reasons for sure and his suicide still remains mysterious. I feel sorry a little because if he had been alive,he would've played an important role in shaping our country.

What did your book say about the reasons? Why do you think he is a little nuts?

David Haws 清美さん、


John Nathan did a biography of Mishima in 1974 (I’ve just started it—he also translated午後の曳航 in 1965) and thought that Mishima knew the Self Defense Force wouldn’t buy returning substantive power to the 昭和天皇. Nathan thought that the coup was a pretext for Mishima to commit seppuku (he certainly went in prepared). The timing (1970) was in the middle of the global student protest movement, and Mishima’s taking over the commandant’s office seemed a little like students seizing the President’s office at Columbia in 1968—although they smoked the President’s cigars and drank his brandy, rather than committing suicide (you Japanese, you’re so serious ;<). If Mishima had actually believed that the coup would be successful, it might indicate that he was delusional (psychotic). Maybe the attempt and suicide was intended to make a dramatic statement, like Thich Quang Duc (1963). However Mishima was only 45 at the time—really, in his intellectual prime. If he were thinking of optimizing his impact on Japanese society, living another twenty or thirty years would have been better. So it seems like there is something else going on—something painful, or maybe neurotic in his life.

Mishima seems pretty brilliant, and I can understand his feeling that the example of seppuku might be powerfully felt in Japan. Was it?

David Haws Nathan (I'm about half-way through) seems to think that Mishima was creating an intentional parallel with the 1936 Army coup. Wasn’t the coup initially considered disgraceful (clearly rejected by Hirohito)? Had the people in Japan changed their minds about 帝都不祥事件 by 1970?

David Haws Since Nathan and Mishima had become estranged, Nathan's book is potentially biased. Has anyone written about Mishima's decision and suicide as something positive? What happened to the commandant? Was he disgraced for having been captured?

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