Today, we’re talking about the literature of change in the 1960s—how writers took on questions about what it meant to be Japanese in the post-war era and what was the continuing role of Japanese tradition.
We’re looking especially at Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe.
*This episode incorrectly states that Kenzaburo Oe was born in 1925. He was born in 1935.
Content warning: This episode addresses fascism and suicide.
The Sea of Fertility Tetralogy by Yukio Mishima
- Spring Snow (translated by Michael Gallagher)
- Runaway Horses (translated by Michael Gallagher)
- The Temple of the Dawn (translated by E. Dale Saunders and Cecilia Segawa Seigle)
- The Decay of the Angel (translated by Edward Seidensticker)
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe (translated by Paul St. John MacKintosh and Maki Sugiyama)
Other Books Mentioned in This Episode:
Beautiful Star by Yukio Mishima (translated by Steven Dodd, available in UK markets only)
“Patriotism” by Yukio Mishima (translated by Geoffrey W. Sargent) in The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
“The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away” (translated by John Nathan) in Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness
Find Out More
The Constitution of Japan (English)
Ruminations on America, 1965. A translation by Hiroaki Sato of a part of Ōe’s essay, including his thoughts about Huckleberry Finn. (CW: Quotes Twain’s use of a racial slur)
- Episode 19: Rising from the Ashes—the end of WWII and the American Occupation
- Episode 104: The Patriot—Yukio Mishima
- Episodes 244-5: The Summer of Rage. A deep dive into the history I only cover briefly here.
Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.
- 22: Japan’s Economic Miracle