JAPAN: Confessions of a mask is a magnificent story of being an outsider, about being queer. This book is believably semi-autobiographical, written by one of the best and most celebrated authors from Japan, Yuiko Mishima. The eerie and unconventional story, published in 1949, has been nominated for the Nobel prize thrice. Set in imperial Japan, the book talks about a man named Kochan obsessed with sexual violence. To describe it best, the book is a declaration of guilt by the protagonist.
Author before death
Yuiko Mishima wrote Confessions of a Mask in his early twenties. It was his debut novel that launched him into success. Mishima, along with being a successful author was also a playwriter. Furthermore, he conducted an orchestra and directed a notorious film called ‘patriotism’.
Moreover, a part of him was dedicated to being an actor. He also was a disciplined bodybuilder. He wanted to build a beautiful body and destroy it right when it started to decay.
Confessions of a mask
The book delivers the idea of not fitting in the culture, the society. Kochan, a gay young man, learns at an early age that he has to wear a mask to camouflage in the culture to survive. Mishima describes such encounters in the book, untainted with emotion. They are disturbing, raw, beautiful, absurd at points, and filled with lust. The fusion of sadism and masochism emerges classically throughout the book.
Furthermore, some in-depth descriptions are too unconventional to be appropriate.
For instance, when he shares his desire to lure a young sailor into his cellar and stabbing him in the abdomen while kissing him. The book is sophisticated, concisely articulated, poised, beautifully described, and raw. The manner of the writing suggested the author’s trust in the readers, all worthy enough to keep his secret.
Mishima wanted a glorious death, a death of a warrior.
His lineage could be traced back to the samurais which explained the path the author walked on to kill himself.
Seppuku is a method of suicide/sacrifice that the samurais in ancient Japan used to end their lives.
Additionally, this method is described as filled with meaning, a grand death with glory.
Mishima with his ferocious vitality ran along with his principles.
Furthermore, his disciplined intensity was proven when he ended his life in 1970 by staging seppuku, by cutting the abdomen open with a sword.
Interdiction of Mishima in Japan
In Japan, Mishima was a taboo subject.
Japanese people did not feel comfortable dwelling with his brand of right-wing fanaticism.
Japanese intellectuals didn’t understand him and rather than discussing him, preferred instead to put the strange scandal of Mishima behind them and forget about him.
This was 1970 so Mishima’s idea of going back to worshipping the Emperor like a god again wasn’t appreciated.