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Mishima and Postwar Japan

Mishima graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1947 and worked for a brief time at the Finance Ministry. He resigned from the ministry in 1948 and decided to support himself exclusively from his writing. In July of 1949 his first novel "Confessions of a Mask" was published, causing Mishima to be called one of Japan's most promising new writers. Between 1950 and1964 Mishima turned out a prolific body of writings ranging from novels, plays, short stories, essays to travel books and articles for magazines. Some of his most important and successful novels were written during this time : " Thirst for Love ", " Forbidden Colors ", " The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea ", " Silk and Insight ", " After the Banquet " and " The Sound of the Waves ". In 1956 Mishima published "Temple of the Golden Pavilion", his most commercially successful work of this period.

On May 30th 1958 Yukio Mishima married Yoko Sugiyama, the daughter of Nei Sugiyama, one of Japan's most famous traditional painters. The two had met the previous March through a friend of the Mishima family. Yoko Sugiyama was a 19 year old college sophomore and Yukio Mishima was 33 years old.

Mishima made it clear from the beginning that he expected certain things from his wife before he would enter into marriage. First, he expected his wife to understand that his writing would always come first. He also expected her to respect his right to privacy as well to agree not to interfere with his bodybuilding routine. It is hard to say why Mishima choose to marry considering all of the conditions that he expected his wife to comply with. One reason seems to have been his mother's health. In March of 1958 his mother was diagnosed as having a terminal form of cancer. The diagnosis turned out eventually to be incorrect, but Mishima rushed through the various marriage arrangements to ensure his mother that she would see him married and with a family before she died.

Another reason for Mishima's decision to marry was given by the writer and Mishima biographer John Nathan. John Nathan stated in his biography "Mishima : a biography" that even though Mishima went out of his way to shock the Japanese public with his outrageous behavior, he was very passionately concerned with what other people thought of him. It is considered very unusual for a middle class person in Japan to be unmarried after the age of 30. Most successful people in Japan are expected to marry and raise a family. Nathan's feeling is that Mishima was always very concerned with preserving his own respectability in the eyes of the public and this respectability meant that he should be married and have a family.