Document Type

Book Chapter


Mishima Yukio (born Hiraoka Kimitake, 1925-1970) is primarily known as a novelist, as the leader of an idiosyncratic private army, and for his suicide in November 1970 in the headquarters of the Self Defense Forces backed up by some members of his private army, the Shield Society. Mishima also, however, was a tireless promoter of his own image and his own celebrity. In addition to his 40 novels, 18 plays, some 20 volumes of fiction and a similar number of critical essays, librettos and other writings, he was a regular contributor of essays to newspapers and intellectual journals and co-operated enthusiastically with journalists from around the world. He could barely buy a pair of cufflinks without writing about it in a newspaper or magazine (Mishima 1966a: 171). His Englishlanguage biographers (without considering the many critical studies which have appeared) are the journalist Henry Scott-Stokes (1975) and his first translator into English, John Nathan (1975), Much of his celebrity was achieved without the "professional articulation between the news and entertainment media and the sources of publicity and promotion" (Turner et at. 2000: 5) which are characteristic of the media industries oftoday. He also acted in plays, appeared in films, and was photographed by some of the leading photographers of the time. It is these visual images of Mishima which form the major texts to be analyzed in this chapter. My interest in Mishima was stimulated by an artist, Morimura Yasumasa, who would have been aged only 19 or so at the time of Mishima's death, and whose major works have mainly appeared since the 1980s.