The author of masterworks such as The Temple of the Golden Pavilion and Forbidden Colors, Mishima, a celebrated figure in postwar world literature, remains a controversial figure in Japan.
His reactionary politics and the spectacular nature of his death had so profoundly impacted Japanese society that images associated with the event were never publicly shown. In the months prior to the November incident, he enlisted Kishin Shinoyama to create a photographic, radical work of fiction, a photo essay on the death of the Japanese everyman. In images often suffused with militarism and eroticism, a parade of men, including a sailor, a construction worker, a fisherman, and a soldier, are shown meeting grisly, dramatic ends. Published for the very first time, these stylized images of men dying alone serve as prologues to the real-world culmination of Mishima s pursuit of total art.
Locked in a performance with one inescapable end, Mishima offered his own body as its final act.