Early life[ edit ] Mishima in his childhood c. April Mishima was born in the Yotsuya district of Tokyo now part of Shinjuku. His father was Azusa Hiraoka, a government official, and his mother, Shizue, was the daughter of the 5th principal of the Kaisei Academy. He had a younger sister, Mitsuko, who died of typhus in at the age of 17, and a younger brother, Chiyuki. Through his grandmother, Mishima was a direct descendant of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
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Mishima was the son of a high civil servant and attended the aristocratic Peers School in Tokyo. During World War II , having failed to qualify physically for military service, he worked in a Tokyo factory, and after the war he studied law at the University of Tokyo. In —49 he worked in the banking division of the Japanese Ministry of Finance. His first novel , Kamen no kokuhaku ; Confessions of a Mask , is a partly autobiographical work that describes with exceptional stylistic brilliance a homosexual who must mask his sexual preferences from the society around him.
The novel gained Mishima immediate acclaim, and he began to devote his full energies to writing. He followed up his initial success with several novels whose main characters are tormented by various physical or psychological problems or who are obsessed with unattainable ideals that make everyday happiness impossible for them.
Kinkaku-ji ; The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is the story of a troubled young acolyte at a Buddhist temple who burns down the famous building because he himself cannot attain to its beauty.
Utage no ato ; After the Banquet explores the twin themes of middle-aged love and corruption in Japanese politics. Each of them depicts a different reincarnation of the same being: as a young aristocrat in , as a political fanatic in the s, as a Thai princess before and after World War II, and as an evil young orphan in the s. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription.
The story describes, with obvious admiration, a young army officer who commits seppuku , or ritual disembowelment, to demonstrate his loyalty to the Japanese emperor. Mishima himself was torn between these differing values.
He diligently developed the age-old Japanese arts of karate and kendo and formed a controversial private army of about 80 students, the Tate no Kai Shield Society , with the aim of preserving the Japanese martial spirit and helping to protect the emperor the symbol of Japanese culture in case of an uprising by the left or a communist attack.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen , Corrections Manager. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:.