70 Yukio Mishima Quotes from the Famous Japanese Author

Yukio Mishima, born Kimitake Hiraoka on January 14, 1925, in Tokyo, was a well-known Japanese novelist, essayist, poet, and critic recognized globally for his vast literary contributions.

Raised by his grandmother Natsu, who significantly influenced his literary interests, Mishima began writing at 12.

He studied law at the University of Tokyo but his passion for writing dominated, leading him to produce novels, plays, poems, essays, and more.

Yukio Mishima

His works, characterized by themes of beauty, violence, and nationalism, include “Confessions of a Mask,” “The Golden Pavilion,” and “The Sea of Fertility” series.

Despite struggles with tuberculosis and familial opposition, Mishima remained dedicated to his craft, drawing inspiration from both Western and Japanese literature, as well as samurai values.

Unfortunately, Mishima’s life ended in tragedy when he took his own life on November 25, 1970, at 45, following a failed attempt to garner support for his nationalist beliefs.

I have curated the best quotes by Yukio Mishima in this article.

Top 10 Yukio Mishima Quotes


Possessing by letting go of things was a secret of ownership unknown to youth. ~ Yukio Mishima.


In his heart, he always preferred the actuality of loss to the fear of it. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Better to be caught in sudden, complete catastrophe than to be gnawed by the cancer of imagination. ~ Yukio Mishima.


There is no virtue in curiosity. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Nobody even imagines how well one can lie about the state of one’s own heart. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Everybody’s the same. People are all the same. But it’s the prerogative of youth to think it’s not so. ~ Yukio Mishima.


There’s a huge seal called ‘impossibility’ pasted all over this world. And don’t ever forget that we’re the only ones who can tear it off once and for all. ~ Yukio Mishima.


A man must despise himself before others can despise him. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Is there not a sort of remorse that precedes sin? Was it remorse at the very fact that I existed? ~ Yukio Mishima.


The only people in this world I really trust are my fans – even if they do forget you so fast. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Insightful Yukio Mishima Quotes

It seems to me that before the photograph can exist as art it must, by its very nature choose whether it is to be a record or a testimony. ~ Yukio Mishima.

The philosophy that prepares a revolution and the sentiment that underpins the philosophy have, in every case the two pillars of nihilism and mysticism. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Words are a medium that reduces reality to abstraction for transmission to our reason, and in their power to corrode reality inevitably lurks the danger that the words will be corroded too. ~ Yukio Mishima.


The period of childhood is a stage on which time and space become entangled. ~ Yukio Mishima.

The perfectly ordinary girl and the great philosopher are alike: for both, the smallest triviality can become the vision that wipes out the world. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Prudery is a form of selfishness, a means of self-protection made necessary by the strength of one’s own desires. ~ Yukio Mishima.

For clearly it is impossible to touch eternity with one hand and life with the other. ~ Yukio Mishima.

It is a rather risky matter to discuss a happiness that has no need of words. ~ Yukio Mishima.

For me, beauty is always retreating from one’s grasp: the only thing I consider important is what existed once, or ought to have existed. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Anything can become excusable when seen from the standpoint of the result. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Meaningful Yukio Mishima Quotes


All my life I have been acutely aware of a contradiction in the very nature of my existence. ~ Yukio Mishima.

I still have no way to survive but to keep writing one line, one more line, one more line… ~ Yukio Mishima.

The past does not only draw us back to the past. There are certain memories of the past that have strong steel springs and, when we who live in the present touch them, they are suddenly stretched taut and then they propel us into the future. ~ Yukio Mishima.

We all know that the world is empty and that the important thing, the only thing, is to try to maintain order in that emptiness. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Living is merely the chaos of existence. ~ Yukio Mishima.

If we value so highly the dignity of life, how can we not also value the dignity of death, no death may be called futile. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Beyond doubt, there was a certain splendor in pain, which bore a deep affinity to the splendor that lies hidden within strength. ~ Yukio Mishima.


If the world changed, I could not exist, and if I changed, the world could not exist. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Famous Yukio Mishima Quotes

I had no taste for defeat – much less victory – without a fight. ~ Yukio Mishima.

The highest point at which human life and art meet is in the ordinary. To look down on the ordinary is to despise what you can’t have. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Glory, as anyone knows, is bitter stuff. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Young people get the foolish idea that what is new for them must be new for everybody else too. No matter how unconventional they get, they’re just repeating what others before them have done. ~ Yukio Mishima.


We human beings sometimes steer off in a direction in which we hope to find something a little bit better. ~ Yukio Mishima.

A samurai is a total human being, whereas a man who is completely absorbed in his technical skill has degenerated into a ‘function’, one cog in a machine. ~ Yukio Mishima.

No one can know what a sacrifice it is for me to be gentle and docile. ~ Yukio Mishima.

When people concentrate on the idea of beauty, they are, without realizing it, confronted with the darkest thoughts that exist in this world. That, I suppose, is how human beings are made. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Man always finds the omens he wants. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Again and again, the cicada’s untiring cry pierced the sultry summer air like a needle at work on thick cotton cloth. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Thought-Provoking Yukio Mishima Quotes

As long as you know I am waiting, take your time flowers of the spring. ~ Yukio Mishima.


True beauty is something that attacks, overpowers, robs, and finally destroys. ~ Yukio Mishima.

I had been handed what might be called a full menu of all the troubles in my life while still too young to read it. But all I had to do was spread my napkin and face the table. ~ Yukio Mishima.

I come out on the stage expecting the audience to weep, and instead they burst out laughing. ~ Yukio Mishima.


I want to make a poem of my life. ~ Yukio Mishima.

It is a common failing of childhood to think that if one makes a hero out of a demon the demon will be satisfied. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Was I ignorant, then, when I was seventeen? I think not, I knew everything. A quarter-century’s experience of life since then has added nothing to what I knew; the one difference is that at seventeen I had no ‘realism’. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Beauty is something that burns the hand when you touch it. ~ Yukio Mishima.

The instant that the blade tore open his flesh, the bright disk of the sun soared up and exploded behind his eyelids. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Best Yukio Mishima Quotes

What more could I have done when I did not know that to love is both to seek and to be sought? For me love was nothing but a dialogue of little riddles, with no answers given. ~ Yukio Mishima.

A man may be hard to persuade by rational argument while he is easily swayed by a display of passion, even if it is feigned. ~ Yukio Mishima.


Go-go hall on my way home from school. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Human beings, Isao realized, could descend to communicating their feelings like dogs barking in the distance on a cold night. ~ Yukio Mishima.


There isn’t any fear in existence itself, or any uncertainty, but living creates it. ~ Yukio Mishima.

The most appropriate type of daily life for me was a day-by-day world destruction; peace was the most difficult and abnormal state to live in. ~ Yukio Mishima.

When silence is prolonged over a certain period of time, it takes on new meaning. ~ Yukio Mishima.


The special quality of hell is to see everything clearly down to the last detail. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Popular Yukio Mishima Quotes

If my self was my dwelling, then my body resembled an orchard that surrounded it. I could either cultivate that orchard to its capacity or leave it for the weeds to run riot in. ~ Yukio Mishima.

The cynicism that regards hero worship as comical is always shadowed by a sense of physical inferiority. ~ Yukio Mishima.

A person who has been seriously wounded does not demand that the bandages that save his life be clean. ~ Yukio Mishima.


We live in an age in which there is no heroic death. ~ Yukio Mishima.

The more I wrote, the more I realized mere words were not enough. ~ Yukio Mishima.

For even in the triviality of a single playing card missing from a deck, the world’s order is inevitably turned awry. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Most writers are perfectly normal in the head and just carry on like wild men; I behave normally but I’m sick inside. ~ Yukio Mishima.

A man isn't tiny or giant enough to defeat anything. ~ Yukio Mishima.

A man isn’t tiny or giant enough to defeat anything. ~ Yukio Mishima.

At no time are we ever in such complete possession of a journey, down to its last nook and cranny, as when we are busy with preparations for it. ~ Yukio Mishima.

Perfect purity is possible if you turn your life into a line of poetry written with a splash of blood. ~ Yukio Mishima.

A father is a reality-concealing machine, a machine for dishing up lies to kids, and that isn’t even the worst of it: secretly he believes that he represents reality. ~ Yukio Mishima.

So these were the 70 famous quotes about Yukio Mishima.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Yani Tseng quotes and Yvon Chouinard quotes.

Short Biography of Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima, originally Kimitake Hiraoka, was a multifaceted Japanese figure renowned for his writing and notorious for his extreme nationalist views.

Esteemed as one of the 20th century’s pivotal authors, he was repeatedly considered for a Nobel Prize.


Mishima’s notable works blend traditional Japanese elements with modern Western styles, exploring themes like beauty, eroticism, and death.

Full name Full name: Kimitake Hiraoka
Born 14 January 1925, Nagazumi-cho 2-chome, Yotsuya-ku, Tokyo City, Tokyo Prefecture, Empire of Japan
Died 25 November 1970 (aged 45), JGSDF Camp Ichigaya, Ichigaya Honmura-chō, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
Cause of death Suicide by seppuku
Resting place Tama Cemetery, Tokyo
Education Law
Alma mater Graduate Schools for Law and Politics and Faculty of Law, University of Tokyo
Occupations Writer, playwright, actor, model, theatre and film director, civil servant, political activist
Employers Ministry of the Treasury, Theatre “Bungakuza”
Organization Tatenokai (“Shield Society”)
Language Japanese
Period Contemporary (20th century)
Genres Novel, Novella, Short Story, Drama, Script, Poetry, Travelogue, Autobiographical, critical and other essays, Lecture, Manifesto
Literary movement Post Modernism, fusion
Years active 1938–1970
Notable works Confessions of a Mask, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, The Sea of Fertility

Later in life, his right-wing beliefs led him to form the Tatenokai, aiming to restore the Emperor’s sanctity.

His dramatic life culminated in a failed coup attempt, after which he committed seppuku.

Mishima’s upbringing was marked by a strict and traditional environment, influenced heavily by his aristocratic grandmother, which shaped his interests and ideologies.

Despite his father’s opposition to his literary pursuits, Mishima secretly continued writing, developing a deep affinity for traditional Japanese theater, which influenced his work and worldview.

Quick Facts about Yukio Mishima

  • Yukio Mishima, born Kimitake Hiraoka, was a multi-talented Japanese figure renowned for his writing, acting, and political activism.
  • Considered a significant 20th-century author, Mishima’s Nobel Prize consideration came five times during the 1960s.
  • His notable works include “Confessions of a Mask” and “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.”
  • Mishima’s writing is known for blending traditional Japanese and modern Western literary styles.
  • He founded the Tatenokai, a private militia, with a vision to restore the Emperor’s power in Japan.
  • Mishima’s life ended in a public seppuku (ritual suicide) after a failed coup attempt in 1970.
  • He was deeply influenced by his grandmother, Natsuko, who separated him from his family during his early years.
  • Mishima’s early education was at the elite Gakushūin, where he started writing.
  • His first story was published at 16, showing early signs of his literary genius.
  • Mishima’s father was critical of his interest in literature, leading Mishima to write in secret.
  • He was deeply moved by traditional Japanese theatre, like Kabuki and Noh, from a young age.
  • Mishima’s service in World War II was cut short due to a medical misdiagnosis.
  • Post-war, Mishima became a notable figure in literature with works like “Thieves” and “Confessions of a Mask.”
  • He explored themes of beauty, death, and eroticism throughout his career.
  • Mishima’s intense nationalism and criticism of post-war materialism reflected in his later works and political activities.
  • Despite his literary success, Mishima felt a disconnect with the direction of post-war Japanese society.
  • Mishima’s interest in bodybuilding and martial arts was part of his fascination with the samurai code.
  • He married Yōko Sugiyama in 1958, with whom he had two children.
  • Mishima’s later years were marked by a growing disillusionment with modern Japan and an increase in political activism.
  • His final act was an attempt to inspire a coup to restore the emperor’s power, which ended in his ritual suicide.
  • Mishima’s death remains a subject of fascination and speculation, reflecting his complex legacy.
  • He left behind a vast oeuvre that includes novels, plays, essays, and short stories.
  • Mishima’s life and work continue to be studied for their artistic and cultural significance.
  • His challenge to post-war Japanese identity and politics sparked controversy and debate.
  • Mishima’s embrace of traditional values contrasted sharply with the rapidly modernizing Japan of his time.
  • His ritual suicide was a dramatic assertion of his beliefs and commitment to the samurai code.
  • Mishima’s exploration of identity, particularly through characters dealing with societal masks, was a recurring theme in his work.
  • His global travels and exposure to different cultures influenced his writing and perspectives.
  • Despite his polarizing figure, Mishima is remembered for his contributions to Japanese literature and culture.
  • Mishima’s life was a blend of traditional and modern influences, reflecting the tensions within post-war Japan.

Top Questions about

Q: What is Yukio Mishima known for?

A: Yukio Mishima is recognized as a pivotal 20th-century writer, frequently considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature in the 1960s. Despite not winning, his significant contributions to literature remain influential.

Q: What was Yukio Mishima’s final literary work?

A: Mishima’s last masterpiece, “The Sea of Fertility,” a four-part epic written from 1965 to 1970, stands as a monumental achievement in his career.

Q: Who was the last person to perform seppuku in Japan?

A: Yukio Mishima, alongside a follower, was the last known individual to commit public seppuku in 1970 at the Japan Self-Defense Forces headquarters, following a failed coup d’état attempt.

Q: Why should one read Yukio Mishima’s works?

A: Mishima’s writings delve into the complexities of narcissism and its destructive effects, reflecting his personal struggles with insincerity and self-destructive tendencies, offering profound insights into human psychology.

Q: How did Mishima perform seppuku?

A: In a dramatic enactment of his envisioned seppuku, Mishima took his life by slicing open his abdomen with a dagger, symbolizing a lost militaristic valor, in a harrowing display of commitment to his ideals.

Q: What was Yukio Mishima’s original name?

A: Yukio Mishima was born Kimitake Hiraoka.

Q: Why is Yukio Mishima considered significant in the literary world?

A: Mishima is heralded as a key 20th-century writer, known for blending traditional Japanese and modern Western literary styles in his works.

Q: What kind of political beliefs did Mishima hold?

A: Mishima harbored right-wing ideologies, valuing Japan’s traditional culture and spirit, and was critical of western-style materialism and postwar democracy.

Q: How did Mishima view the postwar changes in Japan?

A: He believed these changes threatened Japan’s “national essence” and cultural heritage, fearing the nation would lose its identity.

Q: Can you name a significant group Mishima founded?

A: Mishima founded the Tatenokai, or “Shield Society,” aimed at restoring the Emperor’s sanctity.

Q: What led to Mishima’s controversial death in 1970?

A: Mishima and a follower committed seppuku after an unsuccessful coup attempt at the Japan Self-Defense Forces headquarters.

Q: What are some themes central to Mishima’s literary work?

A: His works often explore the interplay between beauty, eroticism, and death, alongside the use of lavish vocabulary.

Q: How did Mishima’s early life influence his literary themes?

A: Raised in isolation by his grandmother, Mishima’s fascination with death and his complex narratives were partly shaped by his unique upbringing.

Q: What role did Mishima’s family background play in his life?

A: Coming from a lineage connected to samurai and scholars, Mishima’s heritage deeply influenced his values and literary themes.

Q: How did Mishima’s personal struggles manifest in his literature?

A: His writings often mirrored his internal conflicts, particularly his struggles with societal norms and personal identity, evident in works like “Confessions of a Mask.”

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar

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