The connection between Yukio Mishima and Buddhism: Where did Mishima learn Buddhism, including the philosophy of Yusama in "The Sea of Fertility"?

Yukio Mishima and Buddhism Yukio Mishima and Japanese Literature

The connection between Yukio Mishima and Buddhism: Where did Mishima learn Buddhism, including the philosophy of Yusama in "The Sea of Fertility"?

So far in this blog, we have introduced Yukio Mishima's works and his reference books, and in this article we would like to talk about the connection between Yukio Mishima and Buddhism.

Now, speaking of Yukio Mishima and Buddhism, his masterpieceKinkakuji TempleMany people may associate the

Indeed, the novel is set at the Kinkakuji Temple, a Buddhist temple, and its protagonist is also a monk.

However, there is actually no significant connection between this work and Buddhist thought.

However, in the "Sea of Fertility" tetralogy, which became his life's work in his later years, Buddhist thought became heavily involved. In particular, the third volume of "The Sea of Fertility," "The Temple of Dawn," contains many pages of difficult materialistic thought, a development that leaves the reader in a state of shock.

Speaking of Yukio Mishima, hisAn Introduction to HagakureAs is well known in the "Koto" section of the book, there was also the influence of Bushido, the Emperor's philosophy, and even Yangmyonggaku, but in his last years, he also seemed to have a strong interest in Buddhism.

As to why he became so interested in Buddhist thought in writing "The Sea of Fertility," Mishima himself stated the following in an article titled "About 'The Sea of Fertility' ......" in the Mainichi Newspaper (evening edition) on February 26, 1969.

Around 1960, I began to think that I must finally begin writing a long, long novel. However, no matter how much I thought about it, I could not think of a great long novel that was different from, and had a completely different raison d'etre from, the great Western novels of the nineteenth century and beyond. First of all, I was tired of chronicles that followed time too closely. I wanted something that jumped around in time, where each time period formed its own story, and where the whole formed a large circle. I wanted to write a "novel of world interpretation," something I had been contemplating since I became a novelist. Fortunately, I am Japanese, and fortunately the idea of reincarnation is familiar to me. However, my knowledge of reincarnation was quite immature, so I had to read and study many Buddhist books (or rather, introductory Buddhist texts). As a result, I found that what I was looking for was materialism, especiallynondeliverycoexistence(at sentence-end, falling tone) indicates a confident conclusionThe Theory of the Settlement of Mahavairocanathe view of the world as an epistemic themeI had a rough idea that it was in the I had read the commentary on the Settai Mahayana theory, but it was too difficult for me to understand. Yamaguchi of Otani University in Kyotomore and moreimproveAfter meeting Dr. Kato and receiving his teachings, the dawn was finally dawning.

Shinchosha, "The Complete Works of Yukio Mishima 35 (Definitive Edition)," p. 411.

I see, you recalled the idea of samsara for the great circle in the great long novel, and from there you read an introduction to Buddhism. And then you encountered Yogacara, but failed because of its difficulty....

It is true that Yogacara is a really difficult philosophical thought. To be honest, I do not understand it very well. It is such a profound philosophy that it is difficult to fully understand even after years or decades of serious study in Buddhist studies. It is no wonder that Mishima was frustrated.

I was surprised to learn that it was Dr. Masushi Yamaguchi of Kyoto Otani University who taught Mishima. Otani University is the sectarian university of Higashi Honganji Temple (Otani school), where many famous Buddhist professors were enrolled at the time, and Mishima was a graduate of the University of Tokyo. The Buddhist studies at Todai are world-renowned, and Mishima was probably more familiar with the teachings there. Nevertheless, Mishima went out of his way to ask Dr. Masu Yamaguchi of Otani University in Kyoto to teach him (perhaps he met Dr. Yamaguchi when he was in Tokyo on some occasion).

Dr. Yamaguchi is also the abbot of Ganshoji Temple in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, and lived on the scene as a Buddhist monk. It is difficult to say whether it is appropriate to say this, but it may be that Mishima wanted to learn from a man who had Buddhism not only as an academic discipline but also as a faith.

In fact, I spent my graduate school years at Otani University, so it was a big surprise to me that I could make such a connection with Yukio Mishima.

Masu Yamaguchi (1895-1976)Wikipedia.

Dr. Yamaguchi is well known for his research on Yui Sensei, and I have read several of his books. However, as one would expect, Yudhist consciousness is difficult to understand. It is very difficult to read about it in books alone. Mishima, who learned directly from Yamaguchi, probably got some kind of impression and used it in his works. As I mentioned earlier, the results can be seen in "The Temple of Dawn. As a Buddhist monk myself, I was quite astonished, so I think the general readers of the time must have been quite surprised as well. The pages full of incomprehensible Buddhist philosophies have quite an impact on the reader.

Mishima then continues with the above quote, describing "The Sea of Fertility" as follows

Meanwhile, in 1964, Iwanami published a fully reliable text of "Hamamatsu Chunagon Monogatari" with notes by my former teacher, Satoshi Matsuo. After reading it many times, I decided that my novel should be based on it. It is a love story about a beautiful nobleman who travels to Tang China in search of his deceased father, who was reborn in Tang China, and is a novel in which dreams and rebirth carry the entire plot.

I have organized "The Sea of Fertility" into four volumes, the first of which, "Spring Snow," is a dynastic love story, a sort of "tawadayamaburi" or "tawadayamaburi" or "tawadayamaburi" in other words.the Japanese spiritdaughter of a person of high rank (i.e. a king, noble, aristocrat, etc.)The second volume of the novel, "BENMA," is a novel of intense action, with "MASURABURI" and "MASURABURI" being the two most famous characters in the novel.spirit of someone on the first O-Bon after their deathspirit who possesses a wicked spiritThe third volume of the "Temple of the Dawn" novels, "The Temple of the Dawn," is an exotic and colorful psychological novel, a sort of "astrange spiritspirit who possesses a wondrous powerThe fourth volume, yet to be titled, is a follow-up novel that incorporates many of the events of the time it was to be written.god who bestows happiness upon peoplegod who bestows happiness upon peopleI have arranged my interviews in the style of "things that lead to the novel," and for the research for Volume III, I made two trips to Southeast Asia, and I was assisted by various people in my interviews in Japan. My interviews were conducted in order to preserve the milieu of the novels.

Shinchosha, "The Complete Works of Yukio Mishima 35 (Definitive Edition)," p. 411-412

For the research for Volume III, I made two trips to Southeast Asia, and I was also assisted by various people in my domestic reporting."

As Mishima states, he has actually traveled to Bangkok, Thailand and India. His experiences in India were particularly intense, and his impressions of the country are directly recorded in "The Temple of Dawn.

In addition to this, he also published an interview article titled "Impressions of India," which clearly shows how shocked Mishima was by India. For more information on this, please refer to our previous articleYukio Mishima's "Impressions of India" - What did Mishima see and think during his trip to India in his later years? Strong influence on "The Sea of Fertility!"Please refer to that article for more details.

We do not know what Mishima actually read when he studied Buddhism, but we know from the article in the complete works referred to here that he read a number of introductory books and arrived at Yudhistra, and that he was taught by Dr. Masu Yamaguchi of Otani University.

I am now deeply aware that I would like to relearn the Yoboku-kyo again in order to better appreciate "The Sea of Fertility," which became Mishima's lifework. This will be an important point in understanding Mishima's thoughts in his later years.

The above is "The Connection between Yukio Mishima and Buddhism: Where did Mishima learn Buddhism, including the philosophy of Yusama in "The Sea of Fertility"?

*Addition on March 16, 2024

According to Takashi Inoue's "Reading Yukio Mishima's Phantom Posthumous Works: Another 'Sea of Fertility'" (Kobunsha), Mishima seems to have studied Yui-sensei in the following three books.

Fukaura, Masafumi, "Rin-nei no Shotoi (The True Nature of Reincarnation)," Nagata Bunshodo.
Tetsusho Minamoto, The Contemporary Significance of Kyo-Shido (The Contemporary Significance of Kyo-Shido), Otani Publishing Co.
Ueda, Yoshifumi, "The Idea of Karma in Buddhism," Asoka Shorin.

A detailed explanation of the three books and how Mishima received them are also written in the book "Yukio Mishima: Another 'Sea of Fertility'", so those interested should pick up this book as well.

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