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Posts Tagged ‘Yukio Mishima’

I am sharing a favorite of mine for this week’s Sunday morning music selection. It’s from composer Philip Glass and is a piece originally from a soundtrack of the 1985 film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. The full title of this particular selection is String Quartet #3 Movement VI (also called Mishima Closing) and is performed by the Dublin Guitar Quartet. I have listened to this piece performed by a variety of artists and groups with different instruments and all are wonderful. But I like this version and it just seems to fit this morning.

The story behind the film that this piece is taken from concerns the life of the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima. Born in 1925, Mishima was considered one of the most important writers of modern Japan. That would be notable enough on its own but it was the end of his life that more often than not associated with his name.

Mishima was an avowed nationalist of sorts and for many years trained physically and mentally according to the bushido, the code of the samurai. He formed a civilian militia with the purpose of defending the emperor in the event of a communist revolution and takeover. On November 25, 1970, Mishima and four members of this militia, the Tatenokai or shield society, entered a military base in Tokyo and barricaded themselves in the office of the base commandant, who they detained, tied to a chair.

Mishima then went out onto the balcony and delivered a manifesto he had prepared to the soldiers of the base who were gathered below. His speech was intended to inspire a coup within the ranks that would restore the powers of the emperor.

But the soldiers only mocked and jeered at Mishima.

Finishing his manifesto, he went back into the commandant’s office and performed seppuku or harikari, a suicide ritual in which he would stab himself and then be beheaded with a sword by one of his aides. The aide failed in three attempts at the task of beheading Mishima and another took over the task. This aide then performed the same act on the first aide who had failed in his original task.

It was a strange event and one of which I have to admit I was not aware until several years ago. I also have never seen the film but Glass’ soundtrack is powerful and beautiful. Give a listen and have a good Sunday.

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