Runaway Horses

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Runaway Horses

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mar 14, 2013, 3:29am

That seems a nice way to put it. I think the Chinese would say Devil Horses (see Rancid the Devil Horse, Ernie Kovacs)

mar 14, 2013, 3:38pm

鬼の馬? One of the pronunciations of the first character, 'devil', is ma, and when I first went to Japan I wanted to use it in my name and didn't understand why everyone else didn't think I was as awesome as I did. I guess there's something very Western about thinking the devil is a cool badass.

mar 14, 2013, 4:04pm

A lot of people try to trick the devil like that Martin, be strong, be bad.

mar 15, 2013, 2:01am

I used the name Gaikoku no Oni in Japan and even had a han made of it. I have no idea what the kanji look like.


mar 15, 2013, 4:13am


Redigeret: mar 15, 2013, 12:04pm

In secondary school, a Dutch Chinese classmate 'translated' my name as metselaar = ma 馬 (horse*) and henk something like hang ka (perpetually? industrious?). I can still recognise the character for horse but I've never been able to trace back the other two. My chinese friends say there are no such words, so either my memory is defective (likely) or it's some dialect that's not known here. And yes, I lost my notes. Sad. He had us write old-style too (well, with a pen).

I'll try to follow the read but I usually read during commute and I'm forced to mostly use the car for a few weeks (maybe months) due to daily rehearsals at night. (nightly rehearsals?)

* and only now I realise this is actually not entirely off-topic.

edit. 馬恒矻? With thanks to and google translate.

mar 15, 2013, 12:14pm

I think it's 'last night's rehearsals'

mar 15, 2013, 3:04pm

"Industrious Horses" sounds more like an epic poem of the Cultural Revolution, and "Perpetually Horses" like a musical for twelve-year-old girls.

Redigeret: mar 15, 2013, 3:47pm

Oh wow, maybe Ernie Kovacs was related to Barnett Newman

mar 15, 2013, 3:48pm

i think I get it

Redigeret: mar 16, 2013, 1:16am

>7 RickHarsch: Tomorrow night's, Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's...

>8 MeditationesMartini: You enjoy horsing around, do you? You're forever busy with it.

Redigeret: mar 16, 2013, 10:01am

My chinese family name is ma, but I've been playing around with the given name. Thanks for the ideas.

Back from a bit of wandering and will dive in this weekend.

mar 17, 2013, 9:14am

Chapter One: Scrivener's Callous

mar 17, 2013, 4:43pm

Chapter One: "Of course, that's in 1932 yen"

mar 17, 2013, 7:58pm

Chapter Two: Famous Last Words of Chapter Two.

mar 18, 2013, 6:21pm

Chapter Three: Camus Can Do, but Honda is Smartre

mar 18, 2013, 6:22pm

Chapter Four: Iinuma is our Inoue!

mar 19, 2013, 3:59am

Martin, thanks for doing my morning's work for me.

Redigeret: mar 19, 2013, 4:03am

Order for pigeons
Ordure for the emperor
Blood for Al Suzyu

Al Suzyu (from unpublished works, most from the period 1931-1945)

mar 19, 2013, 12:56pm

I hope Al Suzyu came through the troubles all right. It was a hard time to be a dissident intellectual.

mar 19, 2013, 1:31pm

Tokkaido Hide-OHHH
rapier wit slices lime
face of a soldier

Al Suzyu

mar 22, 2013, 10:59am

Up to chapter four, in which we find that Iiunuma returns with a vengeance. Who is in?

mar 23, 2013, 4:59pm

I'm here; I liked the first one, and Runaway Horses I'm finding quite riveting. Gonna get through all four. No pressure if you find running this thread, like, psychically enervating, Rick, but I'll listen and learn as long as people are posting.

mar 24, 2013, 4:29am

Everyday life is psychically enervating, and my horse won't even move, but I'm clopping along.

mar 25, 2013, 5:10am

Didn't Mishima compare waves to horses in Spring Snow? Runaway Horses...the land of the tsunami...all that stuff about the waves receding and so on...flood imagery?

Redigeret: mar 25, 2013, 5:12am

Henk, are you in? Lola? Sam?

The horses are still in their stalls.

mar 27, 2013, 12:50am

Sorry, I'm in. Managed to read a few chapter while on holiday even. From where I'm at now, I guess Runaway Horses may refer to these idealistic youngsters who are galloping along without using their brains. Chapter 9 (from memory) contains some seriously disturbing account of a bunch of fool samurai trying to change the course of history by killing 'the enemy', i.e. other Japanese who they disagree with. And it seems the hero of our story (Kiyoaki-Iinuma) is rather taken by it.

mar 27, 2013, 5:20am

Your a little ahead of me, but I'm picking up speed. Reincarnation!

mar 27, 2013, 1:33pm

The guys in ch.9 call themselves "League of Divine Wind". The historical name of the incident is the Shinpūren Rebellion, written as 神風連の乱 (thanks, Wikipedia!).
The Shinpū part (神風) also happens to be pronouncable as Kamikaze, which should give some indication of the meanings this word evokes for a Japanese.

From :

Shinpū is the on-reading (on'yomi or Chinese-derived pronunciation) of the same characters that form the word kamikaze in Japanese.

mar 27, 2013, 2:08pm

I'm in ch. 9, but it is an un-Mishima-like 40 pages and the print is smaller,,,and I've been drinking...

mar 27, 2013, 2:46pm

I want so much for The Temple of Dawn to be set in Thailand ( as Honda tries to persuaed the grown-up Chao P to support Thai entry into the war, watches the career of the young Iinuma, and deals with increasing self-hatred, and The Decay of the Angel to take place in a bombed-out, Tokyo Year Zero-style hellscape where Iinuma is accused of murdering a family of four upon his return from China and Honda is the man in the judge's chair.

mar 27, 2013, 2:47pm

Anyway, Chapter Five: "Twilight of the Idylls of the Junior Assistant Judge."

mar 27, 2013, 3:49pm

Yeah, Honda has obviously been too straight too long.

mar 28, 2013, 4:25pm

Finally starting, and here you are giving away the secrets of Honda's gay ghost marriages....

mar 28, 2013, 4:58pm

All a diversion, just to attract readers.

mar 29, 2013, 6:18am

Sam, I finished chapters 9, 10, 11, and you wouldn't BELIEVE the number of correspondences between the issues raised there and in today's northeast seaboard.

Redigeret: mar 29, 2013, 1:20pm

This is a really good book. It feels like the spirit world could break out at any minute, which is kind of a cheap feeling when it actually is gonna break out, but a hard one to maintain when it isn't, which I take to be the case here.

mar 29, 2013, 1:22pm

I agree. I am struggling between beer and the book, on chapter 13, and Kiro is haunting me.

mar 29, 2013, 1:25pm

Beer and book is a classic combination, contrariwise.

mar 29, 2013, 1:57pm

And so many other wises as well.

apr 1, 2013, 6:49pm

I see that Barny Noble is now listing Runaway Horses for the Nook. It is expensive for electrons, and that is not my favorite medium. But if you folks tell me that the book is really compelling and substantial, and if you continue to discuss it, I will order it after April 5 when the billing cycle turns over.

So how is the book? Readable?


apr 1, 2013, 6:57pm

I describe it supra as "quite riveting."

apr 1, 2013, 7:51pm

I was just enervated by trimming trees from my porch roof. I don't know whether I am up to recreational manual labor, but I'm leaning in that direction; let's rivet away.

Thank you,


apr 2, 2013, 4:28am

Runaway Horses rivets FOR you.

Redigeret: apr 2, 2013, 8:32am

I am enjoying this, but only just underway. It does seem like Honda has a bit of a gay ghost marriage here. At least, he seems more passionate about the dead guy than his wife. He's coming across as a sort of lower-tier aristocratic everyman right now.

I feel this also getting thicker, and am starting to understand the Proust comparisons in the second book. Yes, there is much here about time and memory.

apr 2, 2013, 3:07pm

Chapter 7: Moé, then Lunch

apr 2, 2013, 5:59pm

It turns out that the Nook version becomes available on April 9. I've put downloading it in my calendar for that day. I will hope to start it the day I download it.


apr 2, 2013, 6:05pm


apr 2, 2013, 9:15pm

47: I think Honda was already the utterly conventional person in Spring Snow. He just perpetuates that here, IMO.

I'm now a few chapters on and there's an interesting glimpse of Iinuma's feelings for Kiyo. The poor sod still doesn't realise that he is simply in love with the young master.

apr 8, 2013, 5:28am

"All the tired horses in the sun..."

Don't despair. We will resume. One problem is Martin suggesting Earthly Powers in the best authors England/US post. A friend from England brought me the book and I couldn't get out of it yesterday.

Today I resume At the Races.

apr 8, 2013, 3:00pm

Earthly Powers, hooray! But this one is also great and I am gonna rejoin you as soon as I can get back to Victoria and pick up my (forgotten) copy. (Shortly!)

apr 9, 2013, 9:00am

47, 51

yes, but isn't it Honda's conventionality that makes him such a great observer and vehicle for conveying the story to us?....

apr 9, 2013, 9:09am

So far this book is beginning to undermine the notion of the conventional Honda...the worsening memory...the re-incarnations of Kiyo...the lure of the fanatacism (though he rules against it...finally)

apr 9, 2013, 11:10am

54 Absolutely. Plus his rationality helps us accept that Isao is really Kiyo reincarnate.

apr 9, 2013, 1:57pm

Henk, I need to read further before i accept that. I'm on about page 160.

apr 9, 2013, 3:30pm

Yeah, Honda's way perverse.

apr 9, 2013, 9:56pm

I like the conventionality point, though it does seem to wear down as we progress. I find myself revisiting the first book quite often now. So the whole first book, with much of its predictability and careful ordinariness in places, was really just a set up for what comes now?

apr 11, 2013, 9:49pm

Contrary to original expectations I now have a paperback copy of Runaway Horses and expect to start reading it within a few hours. I will hope to catch up. I think that the successor volumes are more readily available than this one was.


apr 12, 2013, 8:51am

Sam, that thesis would embarrass the blurber of my copy of SS who said it was his favorite Mishima. But I think the trilogy plus authors aspire to a first novel that generates interest in the following, but I imagine two basic ways of going about it. I wrote a trilogy because the first was liked and produced a particular character that made for a lark of laughs in the second. But then there needed a third and one goal in that was to end the series at three in the simplest way possible (opening with the death of the author). That said, I think Mishima the type to have generally conceived the four beforehand.

Robert, my horse is passed out at the trough, so I think you have time a plenty.

apr 12, 2013, 8:57am

Am I allowed to start finding the pretty people of Volume 1 more interesting after their reincarnations (I assume we'll see more!) start happening?

The first book seems better for the existence of the second.

Redigeret: apr 12, 2013, 10:26am

I think, if I understand state's rights properly, the degree to which you can think anything depends on where you live. You live in Mass., I think, so you cannot think--down with Fenway, go Yanks--but I have no idea regarding the academic thought control.

apr 12, 2013, 10:15am

Rick, it is hard to offend me. I have a thick skin, and I don't take life too seriously. That having been said, there are two things in this world that I cannot tolerate: child abuse and the NY yankees. When we next meet, expect me to school you on the Kendo fields.

Kendo, by the way, is definitely among the cooler of the martial arts. I am enjoying the Kendo scenses.

apr 12, 2013, 10:27am

live in Mass--i changed it.
I didn't mean to offend, but if it leads to a match between your Kendo and my sheer unfairness in battle, then it's all to the good.

apr 12, 2013, 5:36pm

I have read through the beginning of the League of the Divine Wind chapter, and I'm finding Runaway Horses to be far better reading than Spring Snow. I see two possibilities for Honda: one is that he is a loon; the other is that he is divine. I'll leave the responsibility of surprising me up to Mishima.


apr 12, 2013, 5:42pm

I think that isn't fully resolved til the end of book three...

apr 23, 2013, 11:51pm

Slow down. I am not quite finished with Spring Snow. I started late.

apr 24, 2013, 7:21am

Pull up, Rancid (the devil horse)....

apr 24, 2013, 11:17pm

Please slow down. I have read five chapters in Runaway Horses after rushing at breakneck speed through that paean to narcissism Spring Snow.

I am still looking for the right book.

apr 25, 2013, 8:59am

When you have finished the tract, let us know and then we can really get going. You should be about a quarter of the way through by then.

apr 25, 2013, 10:04am

Looks like you "got" Spring Snow. I wish I'd read that faster. Now, take your time, we sure are!

apr 25, 2013, 10:39am

I am having a hard time with the name Honda. I keep thinking of my thirteen-year-old Honda (aka the Goatmobile to folks at the local farmer's coop). A man who looks like a much dented beige Honda full of hay scraps and nannyberries is a difficult image to get around.

apr 25, 2013, 10:45am

That doesn't sound like a bad image for our rather workmanlike judge bureaucrat.

Now, I pride myself a child of the northern Appalachia, and thought I knew of natural things that sprouted from those hills, but what, pray tell, is a nannyberry? I assume this is a berry I'd know by some other more yankeefied name?

apr 25, 2013, 11:06am


Nannyberries fall into one of two categories: those that are the fruit of viburnums, which includes elderberries; and those that come out of the rear end of goats and look like blueberries. Both can be made into tea. If someone offers you the former, drink some. It is quite delicious. If offered the latter, water your rose bushes with it. I have both here.

apr 25, 2013, 11:53am

OK, I've some of those in front of the house. Nannyberries. Not the goat kind. I trust the goat kind were in the Honda. Yeah, nannyberry speckled not a great image for our esteemed gentleman friend.

apr 25, 2013, 12:04pm

>73 urania1: yeah, I too keep thinking of Honda in automotive terms. A fuel-efficient hatchback striving to really live.

apr 25, 2013, 12:21pm

Before anyone goes out and makes tea from the berries of viburnum, check to make sure they are the nonpoisonous variety and that you pick them at the right season. Never eat the leaves or let goats eat any part of viburnum. The leaves contain a form of cyanide in them. Your local agricultural extension office is the best place to go. Please do not use this information to poison anyone. Killing people is bad form.

apr 25, 2013, 12:35pm

Hmmm. Maybe too late here.

Redigeret: apr 25, 2013, 12:44pm


You are an attorney, so I feel assured you can extricate yourself from any untoward behavior on your part.

apr 25, 2013, 2:45pm

Is honda perhaps the Japanese word for nannyberry?

apr 25, 2013, 2:54pm


You're a genius!

Redigeret: apr 25, 2013, 2:59pm

My honda are old
Oh, Umeko, my last love
How can that be tea?

al suzyu

maj 1, 2013, 1:27am

I have finished the entire tetralogy. All are quite entangled with Mishima's life at the time. Mishima committed seppuku the day after the last book was finished. In light of that, I find the ending somewhat enigmatic. In the meantime, an illuminating comment by one of the cadets in the Shield Society founded by Mishima: "Mishima-sensei climbed down the ladder of reason to be with us" (qtd. in Mishima: A Biography by John Nathan).

maj 1, 2013, 1:32am

And now that I have finished the tetralogy, I am still waiting for a book recommendation based on the criteria outlined on another thread.

maj 1, 2013, 2:05am

From "A New Year's Dilemma" (published Jan 1, 1967): It will be at least five years until I complete this major work (The Sea of Fertility) and by that time I will be forty-seven. In other words, by the time the work is completed I will have to resign myself to the eternal impossibility of a gorgeous, heroic end. To give up becoming a hero or to abandon a masterpiece - this decision is drawing near and the prospect fills me with anxiety.

I can hear the people now: "But you are a writer and for a writer the most important thing is to accomplish good work. You speak of becoming a 'hero' - if you complete your work successfully you may become a literary hero."

But as far as I am concerned it is an abuse of language to speak of a literary hero. A hero is a concept only to be found at the opposite pole of literature. ... As always, the glory that draws me is the glory of the hero, not the writer.

I can hear the people day: "But you are dwelling in the past. Attempts to become the kind of active hero you speak of are futile after thirty at the latest and you are forty-five. Why not stop playing the old maid who hides behind thick make-up, give up life and action and concentrate on literature?"

Yet I am still as strong and energetic as a young man, at forty-two, still just young enough to become a hero. Takamori Saigo (a nineteenth century fanatic who committed seppuku) died a hero's death at fifty. ... If I act now I am still in time. On the other hand there is still important work. ...

--Yukio Mishima

Redigeret: maj 1, 2013, 2:35am

While waiting for suggestions for a book to cure what ails me, I am reading another biography of Mishima Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima, which was originally published in 1995 but was only made available in translation this past year. It is really long, with lots of names I cannot pronounce and confusing geography, so I would really welcome that book suggestion ASAP.

maj 1, 2013, 6:24am

talk about galloping ahead...

maj 1, 2013, 8:33am

So Rick,

About the aforementioned book recommendation. I blame you for my reading Mishima, so I think you owe me a good recommendation. And you have to keep recommending until you come up with a book that suits me; otherwise I shall keep all my thoughts about The Sea of Fertility to myself.

maj 1, 2013, 6:52pm

have you looked into the sea of fartility?

or, say, Coin Locker Babies?

maj 2, 2013, 11:49pm

Thus far, I highly recommend Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima despite the fact that I have to refer to Wikipedia at least once a chapter. Naomi Inose's main purpose is to put Mishima's life in a social/political context. John Nathan's biography, on the other hand, concentrates on Mishima's sexuality.

maj 6, 2013, 5:43am

Isao has defied his father quite readily and met Prince what's his name. He has recruited 20 young men united by their willingness to die. It has been hinted that Isao has a plan in mind already, but does he? The main thing is to die before the world corrupts their purity.

(up to page 200 or so)

maj 6, 2013, 4:49pm

from Chapter 19:

'Once again he (Honda) found himself believing that, just as he had never contracted venereal disease, neiher had he ever experienced emotional arousal.'

pure Mishima, but...comments?

maj 6, 2013, 7:34pm

Ha ha, what's the context?

maj 6, 2013, 8:26pm

Watching 'No' he is pondering a line about the fleeting nature of our lives, which of course brings him to Kiyo and Isao. More specifically, though he is unfamiliar with 'No', his companion assures him that once it is underway he will become emotionally aroused.

But Martin, where have you been? Are you ready to mount your slavering steed?

maj 6, 2013, 9:12pm

I been writing! A thousand words a day of indeterminate quality! Gonna have a thesis draft done by June. Turns out all I had to do was take a leave from work and alienate my loved ones.

I forgot my steed in Victoria. Have been making efforts to get it back. (I miss the slavering.) As for poor confused Honda, it makes sense that he'd conflate emotional arousal with venereal disease. Perhaps if he'd gone out and got syphilis he'd have felt too sullied to take an interest in Kiyoisao and everyone's have been better off (?).

maj 7, 2013, 8:37am

see how at the end of his post a fraught Martini lapses into Canadian...

maj 7, 2013, 12:53pm

I's can only am what I have been.

maj 7, 2013, 4:31pm

Hi folks -- Just cross-posting what I posted in the other Salon discussion of Mishima's Tetralogy. Thought you might like to know that Vintage at the end of April released all four books in the Tetralogy (Spring Snow, Runaway Horses, Temple of Dawn, Decay of the Angel) in e-book formats.

(with Stone Bridge Press, publisher of Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima)

maj 12, 2013, 12:29pm

I am resurfacing in Paris today after a aged awful work period, and am amazed at Urania's speed. This continual reincarnation isn't ghostly enough for you? Need I reach into some strange stories from the depths of Chinese literature? Or perhaps a more recent and less officially haunted take like The Corpse Walker?

maj 12, 2013, 12:30pm

MM write aways!

maj 12, 2013, 2:05pm

>101 A_musing: thanks. Turning on internet blocker ... now.

maj 18, 2013, 2:49pm

Chapter 8: I hope I never have to say anything that humiliating in front of my jock son.

maj 18, 2013, 9:49pm

Honda falling for the reincarnation bunkum came out of the left field for me.

Kendo, bah. Shouty rustic slap-happy nonsense. Not a patch on l'escrime.

maj 19, 2013, 5:08am

Spare the rod?

maj 19, 2013, 3:30pm

Chapter nine (Isao's book) was a bit of a grind, though I tried to take it in an epic spirit. Surely Honda's not gonna fall for it?

maj 19, 2013, 5:25pm

Martini, let me know when you are at exactly half and I will resume

maj 19, 2013, 5:47pm

Page- or chapterwise? Or should I bisect it with a mighty kiai.

maj 19, 2013, 5:48pm

Sorry, that should be a "rustic, slap-happy" kiai.

maj 19, 2013, 6:27pm

slap happy would be best

maj 26, 2013, 1:24pm


maj 26, 2013, 1:25pm

I'm glad we're back onto Honda. I find Isao upsetting.

maj 28, 2013, 12:29am

Oops! Spoke too soon! I hate this will to power stuff. Why can't he just have a nice little tragic love affair like Kiyoaki? I guess because the girl he likes is also a fascist.

I felt for Sawa. He's like the balding art space owner who goes to all the hipster parties and hits on the young girls. You're older and smarter and by most measures much more interesting and impressive, and yet somehow they have all the power. And he doesn't even have some death of the ego thing to fall back on, because that's way too Buddhist and he chose to be an extreme Shinto nationalist and obsessed with his beautiful parabola.

maj 28, 2013, 12:30am

Oh, I'm at the start of Chapter 22, btw.

maj 29, 2013, 6:43pm

Where I live there is a profusion of trees like almost nowhere else on the planet, from pines to fruit trees, you know. What is interesting me now about Mishima is the number of specific references to trees.

maj 30, 2013, 7:59am

But more to a Mishima point, and this is where I finally realize I differ from Mr. Durick regarding Spring Snow, are such perverse character moments as when Isao feels something alive in the forest, holding its breath or something like that, ' derision of his intent to kill.' shortly after that Isao 'was irritated at the bird's tight-shut eyes.' (ch. 23)

maj 30, 2013, 7:59am

Nicely time, at the end of ch. 25, 'Honda shuddered. No one, the intuition told him, was within the grave.'

maj 30, 2013, 8:04am

Rarely do I find myself reading someone who I am basically fond of, sympathetic toward, and laugh out loud at a piece of bad writing.
But, in Chapter 28:

'His friends had been eating peanuts and shells were scattered over spread-out newspapers. Lying there in the lamplight, the shells seemed dull and pale, contorted with tension.'

Later in the same chapter, again I laughed: '...but chewing interfered with his calculations.'

Nonetheless in Chapter 29 Yukio is back on track...

maj 31, 2013, 3:23am

118 peanuts are intrinsically funny.

And yeah, the bit at the end of 25 was interesting. Like, if he's being metaphorical, it's old news that Isao is Kiyoaki reborn, so is he being ... literal? Did Iinuma dig up Kiyo's body and have him stuffed?

As for the trees, I remember pines on the cliff where Isao intends to kill his body, and sakaki branches that they carried out to purify him with. What else?

maj 31, 2013, 7:04am

Persimmons, of course, but many others, and the vine that 'leads' to Kiyo's grave...The book is elsewhere in the house, so naturally being more specific about tree examples is utterly impossible at the moment.

maj 31, 2013, 5:25pm

This esoteric thread has piqued my curiosity. Trying to penetrate it and understand what it's about led me to my first Mishima title, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, which I'm reading now.

Is there anything I ought to do as a prerequisite to reading The Sea of Fertility? Can a reasonably literate person come to it without any special preparation? I have read other Japanese literature and currently happen to be on the path of self-education in Japanese cinema, which necessarily takes in aspects of the wider culture.

maj 31, 2013, 5:39pm


I lurk on your reading thread, Meredy, and I think you're eminently capable of tackling Mishima without any special preparation. I suppose there's any number of ways of enriching the experience for any reader--beefing up on Japanese history of the period, for instance--but nothing absolutely essential. Obviously one could refine endlessly, adding aesthetics, Mishima's bio and philosophy etc.--which is sort of what the thread is for (although we don't seem to have any hardcore Mishimian exegetes among us).

Speaking of single volume novels, I haven't read the Sailor, but I can recommend Confessions of a mask to a first-time reader of Mishima.

maj 31, 2013, 5:44pm

P.S. I'm a huge (strictly amateur) fan of Japanese cinema. I can't gauge how my viewing experience compares to its totality, but I'm guessing I've seen at least 90% of what was ever shown in the West. Hit me with your impressions any time you like.

maj 31, 2013, 6:38pm

I am no Meredy, but when the silly games involving the BEST are being played and I play along The Seven Samurai is always the BEST film ever made. It was amazing to me when I first saw it because it was upon the first release of the full version in the US in the early 80s. I read how it had been cut by something like 90 minutes and now was finally being shown in full and went to see it and was so transfixed, so excited, I went the next night to see it again. I think I've seen it 20 to 30 times since, along with at least 14 other Kurosawa films that I have seen more than once. I've never been in a good position to pursue other Japanese directors (strange luck--I lived in a place in Wisconsin where there was an unusual number of foreign flicks at one renter of movies and movie watching machines (I can't even remember what they were called right now)...but they had Kurosawa and Bergmann and other well know 'foreign' directors, so I was limited to them...

I did see the Mishima film with the Glass score, though.

Redigeret: jun 1, 2013, 4:14pm

Right, single perfect persimmons. Also the single "sinewy" Zelkova serrata when Isao goes to see Makiko. Here is one with friends:


That scene with Sawa wrapping the group around his little finger like it was nothing was amazing! And that "first and last kiss" stuff was so cheesy and yet chilling. And Chapter 30!! I once again find this book riveting.

You are correct about the peanuts and the chewing, Rick, but in Mishima's defence here is this thing from the same chapter that I thought was very good:

"'We'll do it! We'll do it!' (Serikawa) shouted, kicking about and scattering the shells that littered the floor. He gripped Isao's hand firmly and shook it. As usual, he was on the verge of tears. This young man affected Isao like a match girl who uses blatant emotional appeal to force a sale. It was a manifestation he had little need for at the moment."

Non-Kurosawa Japanese movies I think are great (warning! some are animes!): Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Nausicäa (Hayao Miyazaki), Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Koreeda)Paprika, Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon), Tampopo (Juzo Itami), In the Realm of the Senses, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (Nagisa Oshima), Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku), The Wings of Honnêamise (Hiroyuki Yamaga), 13 Assassins (Takashi Miike), Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto). And one Kurosawa film that is SO AMAZING that not everyone has seen (probably you guys have) is called Dreams--whatever art sneakily snuck in, the idea of filming your dreams as close as you can to how you remember them is a great one that every famous director should be forced to do.

maj 31, 2013, 7:52pm

Um, sorry, dunno why that picture's so big.

Redigeret: maj 31, 2013, 7:57pm

I have seen these: Tampopo (Juzo Itami), In the Realm of the Senses, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (Nagisa Oshima) liked them all for various reasons

but, more interestingly, i underlined: "This young man affected Isao like a match girl who uses blatant emotional appeal to force a sale. It was a manifestation he had little need for at the moment."

That's the good Mishima, and the bad Mishima is rare--it's just that damn peanut moment all writers fear...

maj 31, 2013, 8:37pm

"Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of peanuts ...."

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous peanut."

"Lolita, light of my life, peanut of my loins."

Redigeret: jun 1, 2013, 1:30am

A picture about 600 pixels wide is pleasant enough for most computer users. To set it use this syntax:

<img src="" width="600">

This syntax preserves the data in the picture. If you reduce a very large picture it will still make the demands on the system of a very big picture and take time to load. It is better to edit a very big picture to a smaller one before linking to it.


PS I hope someday to resume reading Runaway Horses. I am happily, but small piece by small piece, reading Vanished Kingdoms.


jun 1, 2013, 4:40am

It worked! Thanks, Mr D!

jun 1, 2013, 4:14pm

Oh, I see. It's still slow. Maybe I'll remove.

jun 1, 2013, 4:22pm

Anyway, wow, when Mishima's on he's really ON.

p. 307: "Dreams somehow turn one into a slovenly figure. A soiled collar, the back of the shirt wrinkled as though slept in, trousers baggy--something similar overtakes the garment of the spirit." Isao starts dreaming soon after, of course.

p. 308: "She did not grumble. She did not wear a sad expression. Nor did she punish him by putting on a brave cheerfulness."

And on 310 the whole scene with Iinuma and Honda laughing at their wives. And on 316, the father being unable to restrain his jealousy. And even, on 328, "Since (Toin's) hatred had its root in fear, it kept growing."

jun 2, 2013, 7:50pm

That was a great book.

jun 3, 2013, 12:17am

121: Thank you for the kind and unexpected compliment and the guidance on reading Mishima. I finished Sailor this afternoon and am wondering how its themes compare with those of the quartet.

122, 123: I won't derail this thread with further comments about Japanese cinema, but thank you for your remarks. I'll follow up elsewhere.

jun 5, 2013, 3:18pm


There's a movie thread somewhere here, if you'd like to revive it...

Done with the Horses. Pret-ty exciting. Dug out Reflections on the way to the gallows by way of shedding more light on the opposition politics pre-WWII; extra points for the feminist angle.

jun 5, 2013, 3:41pm

I feel like I was all set to give five stars to the horses until I started The Temple of Dawn and realized Kiyo was back again. Though now I am prepared in principle to give five stars to the temple. This ever-delayed gratification attendant on reincarnation says something salient about Buddhism, perhaps.

jun 5, 2013, 3:41pm

Also reflections to gallows looks amazing.

jun 5, 2013, 3:52pm

The blurb on my Temple of dawn makes it sound like a Herz-roman starring our unflappable Atticus Honda, woo woo woo. I don't suppose Kiyo is back as a girl this time? Mishima missed out on one trick if so.

Which reminds me that in the Japanese sex manual I read recently (Manuel de l'oreiller pour posséder les femmes), the anus is called "chrysanthemum". Could affect not a few kiku-haiku...

jun 5, 2013, 5:15pm

菊と刀 takes on a whole new weird meaning as well. And the Chrysanthemum Throne.

She's a girl and it's in Thailand and it's already way more louche than the first two.

Redigeret: jun 5, 2013, 7:43pm

Whoa, a girl, so he went there!!

(I haven't yet opened the third vol.)

So, who wants to bet there's finally gonna be some saxxiness involving THE THREE MOLES? Honda had an eye on them since forever.


菊と刀 takes on a whole new weird meaning as well. And the Chrysanthemum Throne.


jun 5, 2013, 8:33pm

Thanks for ruining the suspense. I am still not quite done with horsies. Martin, you are FEY!

jun 5, 2013, 9:53pm

the third novel is my favourite. Mishima's descriptions of Bangkok and the Ganges are powerful and vivid; and the Buddhist concerns really get foregrounded.

One thing I remember about the whole tetralogy is the way each book encapsulates a particular biographical mood: the first volume has a mood of youth, first love all that stuff, book two a mood of rebellious and idealistic young adulthood. in book 3, Honda is in middle age, and the book is really a spiritual quest now, while the last book has the mood of an exhausted and bleak old age. Honda's spiritual biography is mapped out in terms of artistic moods, but he is always recognisable as the same character despite these changes in mood.

jun 6, 2013, 2:45am

Wait, I thought you'd read all these before, Rick. Does your displeasure require my disembowelment?

jun 6, 2013, 2:48am

And yeah, I'm liking the lassitude of this one so far. With Isao Honda was all weird and upset; now it's like a slightly sad smile, like "of course my pal is back again." I guess this isn't for the horsies thread.

jun 8, 2013, 9:19pm

Lassitude. Perfect word for this. I feel like I am slowly floating through these books in a sort of half-stoned lassitude. Of course, it's been what, months, and I'm not yet done with Horsies.

Rick, love the observation on the fauna. The naming adds to the lushness, no?

jun 9, 2013, 5:04am

Yep. Martin, I read these without much understanding I think. Also you should know my age and recall abilities.
I have a passage or two marked, but again the horse is out of its stall. I am not done quite yet either, Sam. Nearly.
Then I charge on to the...lassitude.

jun 9, 2013, 12:34pm

It's a stone groove.

jun 15, 2013, 6:08pm

I finished Runaway Horses last night. It is a tedious lesson, but I want to know what happens next, so I will almost certainly go on in the tetralogy. The next volumes, however, are not available, according to the computer, in my Barny Noble's, so I'll have to wait for enthusiasm and coupons to impel me to order them.

An important thing that I got from this novel is a sense of the imperialistic attitude, how it might be aspired to, that I probably could not get from non-fiction. Related to that, and I don't know whether it is the smaller or the bigger issue, is the notion of purity. A single mindedness, a kwatz, is a commonality in looking at the Japanese mindset. Can we make a masterstroke?

Meanwhile there are human relations in this work, and that is what novels are supposed to be about. So I suppose I ought to try to tease some of them out, but I think that I will let The Temple of Dawn take the first steps in that direction for me.


jun 15, 2013, 6:19pm

I want to talk about Buddhism! Or more accurately, I want murr to explain it to me.

jun 15, 2013, 6:54pm

I finished a few days ago and have been struggling to express my appreciation for the book, which I think drags the prior one up to another level. After I found a few lapses in the prose that surprised me, I found the writing better and better toward the end. I think part of Mishima's power is his way of building from blocks of blatant perversity a humane and forceful theme.

jun 15, 2013, 9:35pm

omg?where do I start?

jun 15, 2013, 11:01pm

How about ... are Honda's characterizations of the two great traditions in those several chapters in the middle of The Temple of Dawn legit (by which I mean, recognizably based in commonly accepted ideas or even stereotypes or caricatures of the way things are, the way we think of, say, Judaism being to law as Christianity is to grace), or are they more Mishima-idiosyncratic? I'm thinking of Chapter 19: "The world of Theravada Buddhism was like the rainy season in Bangkok when the river, rice paddies, and fields presented an unbroken, limitless expanse.... If it was certain that existence went on, say, even after Honda's death, similarly his path would certainy continue smoothly into the future in repeated reincarnations.... The doctrine is called the theory of constant existence in past, present, and future."

"Contrary to this, Mahayana Buddhsm, especially the Yuishiki school, interpreted the world as a torrential and swift rapids or a great white cascade which never pauses. Since the world presented the form of a waterfall, both the basic cause of that world and the basis of man's perception of it were waterfalls. It is a world that lives and dies at every moment. There is no definite proof of existence in either past or future, and only the present instant which one can touch with one's hands and see with one's eyes is real. Such a world concept is unique to Mahayana Buddhism ...."

jun 16, 2013, 7:35am

Murr, Why not start with reincarnation? The surprise to me in book 2 was the reality of the reincarnation. From readings in Hinduism I always thought of reincarnation as a philosophical/corporeal metaphor.

From my talks with a Thai Buddhist I understand or misunderstand more likely that Buddha is very much like a Christian god to her, without all the fury, of course.

jun 19, 2013, 11:51am

Is there a thread for the third book?

Honda in India. Trippy descriptions of life-into-death everywhere. The translation, btw, seems to have gone off--change of translators? (Vintage)

On the tale overall so far--it is an interesting but oddly one-sided view of Japan of the times. One whole book went on fringe right-wing nationalist terrorists because, apparently, only extremes are authentic. "Unadulterated".

The notion bothers me no end. For one thing, it is immensely stupid. For another, applied publicly or in personal life, obviously it can only end up in destruction.

jun 19, 2013, 12:54pm