Mishima’s Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend

Christopher Ross

The stunning new book from Christopher Ross, Sunday Times top 10 bestselling author of ‘Tunnel Visions’.

On 25 November 1970, after a failed coup d’état, Japanese writer Yukio Mishima plunged a knife into his tightly muscled belly, and was decapitated using his own antique sword. Mishima’s spectacular suicide has been called many things: a hankering for heroism; a beautiful, perverse drama; a political protest against Japan’s emasculated post-War constitution; the last act in a theatre of death; the epitaph of a mad genius. But which, if any, is correct? And what happened to Mishima’s sword?

Thirty years later Christopher Ross sets off for Tokyo on a journey into the heart of the Mishima Incident. While searching for Mishima’s sword and reassessing the life and anachronistic death of this uniquely complex man, he encounters those who knew Mishima, craftsmen and critics, soldiers and swordsmen, boyfriends and biographers – even the man who taught him hara-kiri. The cold trail he follows inspires digressions on, amongst other things, bushidô and socks, mutineers and Noh ghosts, nosebleeds and metallurgy – and how to dress for suicide.

Like his best-selling ‘Tunnel Visions’, Christopher Ross has written another unclassifiable blend of travel writing, autobiography and philosophical quest, an insider’s mesmeric account of modern Japan and a death that still haunts the nation.

Reviews of Mishima’s Sword: Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend

    • ‘(Ross’s) digressive reflections on his quest are personal, pertinent and philosophical: he gives a vivid picture of a Japan still haunted by nostalgia and nationalism.’ The Times
    • ‘Entertaining, deftly written and wise…a very good book. Its achievement is that not only does it make the reader learn, it makes the reader think.’ Daily Telegraph
    • ‘An engaging patchwork of a book, a blend of cultural history, memoir, travelogue and philosophical rumination.’ Hari Kunzru, Sunday Telegraph
    • ‘“Mishima’s Sword” resembles a bento, those beautiful lacquered lunch boxes in which delicacies nestle side by side in separate compartments, each a feast in miniature.’ New Statesman
    • ‘A fascinating read.’ Arena Magazine