Sebastian, his arms bound to a tree, arrows protruding from his sides. In 1968, horrified by the scale of left-wing protests in tokyo, mishima founded a private army, the tatenokai, advertising for soldiers in right-wing student newspapers. A married father, he had long haunted tokyo gay bars. He fell in love with the tatenokais second-in-command, a young man called Masakatsu morita, and began to imagine a coup attempt that would double as a kind of erotic transfiguration, an all-consuming climax of the sort that sometimes fell at the end of kabuki melodramas. Top: Mishima and four soldiers from his Tatenokai army, including Koga (second from left). Middle, bottom: Mishima addresses Japan Self-Defense forces soldiers moments before his suicide in 1970. And so in 1970 Mishima made an appointment to visit the headquarters of the self-Defense forces accompanied by four young Tatenokai officers. He wore his brown Tatenokai uniform, sword in a scabbard at his belt.
The, old, man and the, sea
If you tour the building today, you can see the gouges the writers sword left in language the doorframe when he fought off the generals aides. Mishima was a contradiction. Handsome, rich, a perennial contender for the nobel Prize, he was at 45 a national celebrity, one of the most famous men in the country. He was also possessed by an increasingly charismatic and death-obsessed vision of Japanese culture. After its defeat in the second World War, japan had accepted severe restraints on its military, had turned away from martial values. The sdf was the shadow of an army, not really an army at all. Mishima not only rejected these changes but found them impossible to bear. As a child, he had been sickly and sheltered. Now he worshiped samurai and scorned the idea of peace. He fantasized about dying for the emperor, dying horribly: he posed in an artists photo shoot as the martyred.
Part of this had to do with another Japanese story, one i found myself increasingly preoccupied with, even though it had nothing to do with the wrestling culture Id come to japan to observe. This story fit into mine — or maybe the reverse — like the nesting sumo dolls I saw one afternoon in a chanko shop window, the smaller fighters enclosed in the larger, tortoises in a strange shell. It was a distraction, but unlike almost everything else during those weeks, i couldnt get it out of mind. On the flight to tokyo, i brought a novel by yukio mishima. Runaway horses, published in 1969, is the second book in his. Sea of Fertility tetralogy, which was the last work he completed before his spectacular suicide in 1970. What happened was that he sat down on the floor and ran a dagger through his abdomen, spilling 20 inches of intestine in front of the general whom he had just kidnapped, bound, and gagged. He had taken the general hostage in his own office in the headquarters of the japan Self-Defense forces (SDF) mini in a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Japan.
I wandered through ryogoku, the neighborhood near the kokugikan, past run-down chanko joints peddling the high-calorie protein stew that rikishi guzzle to gain weight. I followed wrestlers who were out running errands, crossing the street on the way to or from their stables: soft kimonos and wooden sandals, working their iPhone touchscreens with big thumbs or bopping their heads to whatever was playing in their earbuds. One afternoon I spied on a young rikishi who was sitting alone on a park bench, 375 pounds if he was an ounce, watching some tiny kids play soccer. He was sitting on the left side of the bench, and he was very careful not to let his kimono spread onto the other half of the seat, as though he were conscious that his bulk might impose on others. Every once in a while a mother would approach and give him her child to hold, and he would shake the little baby, very gently. Most of the time, though, i was lost in tokyo, and if I wound up anywhere i was supposed to be, anywhere i had agreed to be, it felt like a fortuitous accident. The disorientation I had experienced all winter latched onto tokyos calm madness and found a home in it, like one of the silent water buses — glass beetles from a science-fiction film — that glide up the sumida river.
The, old, man and, the, sea
There was a reason for this, but instead of confronting it I was evading it, i was refusing to for name it to myself. I would come up to the point and then trail off in the middle of the sentence. I kept myself in the margins of a safe semi-oblivion, around whose edges things kept erasing themselves. Of course i would go to tokyo, i said when I was asked to write about sumo wrestling. Inwardly, i was already there. I drifted through the city like a sleepwalker, with no sense of what I was doing or why. Professionally, i managed to keep up a façade of minimum competence, meeting with photographers, arriving on time for the first bell at the kokugikan, taking notes.
(I have: arena French fry cartons made of yellow cardboard with picture of sumo wrestler printed. I have: bottle openers attached to railings with string, so fans can open beer. I have: seat cushions resting on elevated platforms, so fans can slide their shoes underneath.) Early one morning I stood in a narrow side street between a bike rack and a pile of garbage bags, spying on a sumo practice through windows steamed over from. Occasionally a wrestler would come out and stand in the doorway (it was a sliding glass door, motion sensitive sweat-slick and naked but for his brown mawashi, to let the winter air wash over him. We would look at each other, and not smile.
I mean that literally, in that i often felt like i was experiencing it while asleep. Youll ride an escalator underground into what your map says is a tunnel between subway stops, only to find yourself in a thumping subterranean mall packed with beautiful teenagers dancing to katy perry remixes. You will take a turn off a busy street and into a deserted Buddhist graveyard, soundless but for the wind and the clacking of sotoba sticks, wooden markers crowded with the names of the dead. You will stand in a high tower and look out on the reason-defying extent of the city, windows and david Beckham billboards and aerial expressways falling lightly downward, toward the ferris wheel on the edge of the sea. The first time you read a story like this, maybe, you feel cheated, because you read stories to find out what happens.
All that winter I had been forgetful. No one who knew me would have guessed that anything was wrong, because in fact nothing was wrong. It was only that things kept slipping my mind. My parents phone number. Sometimes, and for minutes at a time, what city i was. There is a feeling that comes when you open a browser window on a computer and then realize you have lost all sense of what you meant to do with it; I felt that way looking out of real windows. Some slight but definitive shift in my brain had separated me from my own thoughts. The pattern had changed and I could no longer read it; the map had altered and I could no longer find my way.
The, old, man and the, sea by Ernest Hemingway — reviews
Boys with frosted tips and oversize headphones, camouflage jackets and cashmere scarves. Herds of black-suited businessmen. A city so dense the 24-hour manga cafés will rent you a pod to sleep in for the night, so post-human there are brothels where the prostitutes are dolls. An unnavigable labyrinth with 1,200 miles of railway, 1,000 train stations, homes with no addresses, restaurants with no names. Blade runner alleys where paper lanterns float among crisscrossing proposal power lines. And yet: clean, safe, quiet, somehow weightless, a place london whose order seems sustained by the logic of a dream. Its a dream city, tokyo.
That the seeming evasion is in fact a finality, a sudden reordering of things. For instance: In January i flew to tokyo to spend two weeks watching sumo wrestling. Tokyo, the city where my parents were married — i remember gazing up at their Japanese wedding certificate on the wall and wondering what it meant. Tokyo, the biggest city in the world, the biggest city in the history of the world, a galaxy reflected in its own glass. It was a fishing village barely 400 years ago, and now: 35 million people, a human concourse so vast it cant be said to end, only to fade indeterminately around the edges. Thirty-five million, almost the population of California. Smells mauling you from doorways: stale beer, steaming broth, charbroiled eel. Intersections where a thousand people cross each time the light changes, under J-pop videos 10 stories tall. Flocks of schoolgirls in blue blazers and plaid skirts.
he needed to say. Why he decided not to give away more than this. The first time you read a story like this, maybe, you feel cheated, because you read stories to find out what happens, not to be dismissed at the cusp of finding out. Later, however, you might find that the silence itself comes to mean something. You realize, perhaps, that you had placed your emphasis on the wrong set of expectations. That the real ending lies in the manner of the storys turning away from itself. That this can be a kind of metamorphosis, something rich and terrifying and strange.
The tale of Genji, the great heian-period novel whose author — perhaps deliberately — left it unfinished. When the protagonist dies late in the book, his death is never mentioned directly; instead, its marked by a business blank chapter called Vanished Into the Clouds. For instance: my second-favorite japanese novel, Snow country, by the 20th-century writer Yasunari kawabata. Its last pages chronicle a fire. A village warehouse where a film has been playing burns down. We watch one of the characters fall from a fiery balcony. The protagonist runs toward her, but he trips in the crowd.
The, old, man and the, sea, life - shipping Wars
The disappearing Sword some japanese stories end violently. Others never end at all, but only cut away, at the moment of extreme crisis, to a butterfly, or the wind, or the moon. This is true of stories everywhere, of course: Their endings can be abrupt or oblique. But in Japan, where suicide is historically woven into owl the culture, 5 where an awareness of lifes evanescence is the traditional mode of aesthetics, 6 it seems truer than in other places. The extent of Japans suicide problem is sometimes overstated by the media, but Japan may be unique in the way that suicide has been historically celebrated and seen as an honorable rather than a shameful act. G., the concept of mono no aware, which translates into something like a pleasing sadness at the transience of beautiful things. The literary scholar Motoori norinaga coined this idea in the mid-18th century to describe.