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Altogether, Yukio Mishima is credited with having written 257 pieces of writing. Below is a listing of some of his best and most easily available works. Click on the highlighted titles for a brief description of the book.

Individual Novels

After the Banquet1963YES
Confessions of a Mask1949YES
Forbidden Colors1968YES
The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea1965YES
The Sound of the Waves 1954YES
The Temple of the Golden Pavillon 1959YES
Thirst for Love1969YES

The Sea of Fertility Novels

Spring Snow - Book #11968YES
Runaway Horses - Book #21969YES
The Temple of Dawn -Book #3 1970YES
Decay of the Angel - Book #41974YES

Short Stories

Death in Midsummer1966YES


Sun and Steel1972YES

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Book Summary

Confessions of a Mask

Published in Japan in 1949, the book sold 20,000 copies in hard cover making it a bestseller for that year.The book is about a young high school boy who is discovering that he is becoming a homosexual in a very polite post-war Japan.The novel is loosely based on Mishima's own life. The book , on its publication in Japan established Yukio Mishima as one of Japan's most promising new writers. This was the third novel by Yukio Mishima to be published in the United States.


Death in Midsummer

A collection of ten short stories.Two particular stories deserve special attention.The title story "Death in Midsummer" is about a family tragedy that occurs at a beach resort and how it continues to haunt everyone involved. The other is "Patriotism" a story about a young army officer and his wife who choose to vindicate their belif in ancient values by performing seppuku. The story is very similar to Mishima's own life.

Sun and Steel

A short memoir about the last ten years of Mishima's life when he became very interested in bodybuilding and the martial arts. Throughout the book Mishima describes his personal transformation from the "decadent youth" to the "a man of action" that he would eventually become by the end of his life.


The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea

A story of an affair between a young widow and a naval officer and the effect that it has on her son. Her son is the leader of a gang of young boys who are trying to pursue "objectivity" by becoming more calculating in their violence and cruelty. The novel is about how misleading "objectivity" can be and the kind of consequences that it can have.

The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Loosely based on a true story,this was the fourth novel to be published by Yukio Mishima in the United States. It was Mishima's most commercially successful work. It sold over 300,000 copies in Japan. The story is about a young buddhist monk who after becoming obsessed with the beauty of an ancient temple, burns it to the ground in frustration over not being able to attain the same level of beauty in his own life that he sees in the temple around him.



Spring Snow

Book one introduces the two central characters,Kiyoaki Matsugae and Shigekuni Honda when they are both in high school and getting ready to graduate. The story is set in the period in Japan immediately following the Russian-Japanese War. It is 1912. On the surface, the story follows a brief love affair between Kiyoaka and a young girl named Satoko,but the real subject of the novel is the friendship between Kiyoaki and his best friend Honda. The affair between Kiyoaki and Satoko finally ends and Satoko disappears behind the walls of an abbey never to be seen in public again. It is only then that Kiyoaki knows that he wants to be with Satoko, but he cannot get her to leave the abbey. Kiyoaki finally goes to the abbey with a fever, where he is turned away again once again by the head of the order. As days pass , his fever gets worse and he is unable to continue going to the abbey. Eventually he sends Honda in his place to speak to Satoko who gets turned away as well. The book ends with Kiyoaki's death. He is twenty years old.


Runaway Horses

Book two picks up with Honda's life twenty years after the death of his friend Kiyoaki in 1932. Honda is now a judge in the Japanese legal system. While attending a kendo match as a favor to a friend, he sees a young man named Isao, who he recognizes as the reincarnation of Kiyoaka. Isao is a political fanatic who becomes involved in a plot to kill a group of Japanese businessmen who he feels are corrupting the country. He plans to assasinate these people and afterwards commit seppuku(ritual suicide) , but his plot is uncovered and he is charged by the government with treason. Honda resigns his judgeship to represent Isao at his trial where he successfully defends him, only to leave Isao resentful at not having his destiny "fullfilled". The second novel of the Sea of Fertility series deals with the political fanaticism that led Japan into the Second World War.

Temple of Dawn

Book three begins is set in 1952. It centers around a Thai princess. Honda,now no longer a judge but a private lawyer is asked by a company to go to Thailand to settle a dispute that has begun when a shipment of damaged goods arrives in that country. While in Thailand he decides to see if he can visit the family of two classmates that both he and Kiyoaka knew in high school. His guide tells him that the two people that he knew are now living abroad, but that he can visit one member of their family. A seven year old girl who is a princess. Everyone in her family believes her to be crazy because ever since she's been able to talk she's been telling everyone that she is not really a Thai princess but a reincarnation of someone from Japan.

Decay of the Angel

Book four begins in 1970. Honda is now 76 years old. His wife has died and he is now retired from the law. He travels a great deal by himself. He befriends a sixteen year old boy named Toru ,who he recognizes as the reincarnation of Kiyoaki. At the end of book four, Honda returns to the abbey where Kiyoaki's girlfriend Satoko had spent her life and where Honda had gone in the first book to ask the abbess if Kiyoaki could see his former girlfriend one more time. When he is there this time he finds that the memory of Kiyoaki has been long been forgotten and that the most intense experience of his life in the end amounted to nothing.

For critical reviews of his books click here.

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