The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima

The Sound of Waves is a book of optimism and hope with all the character traits I most admire: courage, perseverance, honesty, cheerfulness, and hard work. It was written by Yukio Mishima in 1954.

Of all the books of Japanese literature that I’ve read, this is one of my favorites. I can’t tell you how much I loved the story, the writing, the mood, and the subtle lessons portrayed by Mishima when he wrote of first love between a young couple in a small fishing village on an island all its own.

Yukio Mishima, born in January, 1925,  is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. He was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but lost the award to Yasunari Kawabata in 1968. His work is said to have broken cultural boundaries with “a focus on sexuality, death, and political change”. He died in November, 1970, by committing seppuku after a failed coup d’etat.

I’m longing to read The Sea of Fertility tetralogy, considered his greatest achievement,  which includes Spring Snow (1969), Runaway Horses (1969), The Temple of Dawn (1970), and The Decay of Angels (1971).

21 thoughts on “The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima”

  1. Would you believe I read this in 1996?! August 4th, to be precise. From my journal (my first reading journal ever):

    Very good! Beautifully written! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A quick read also. Some of the dialogue seemed simplistic, maybe due to the translation?

    How's that for a brief review? 😉


  2. I think he's my new favorite Japanese author. Well, next to Haruki Murakami, of course. Why am I not surprised you've already read the Sea of Fertility tetralogy? 🙂


  3. I would believe it, Les! I'm still in awe of how you keep a journal recording what you've read. Do you organize it by author or by year or by how much you loved a book? See, I can't find a place to begin!

    I think your brief review is perfect. With such an awesome book, we can't say too much about it without diminishing Mishima. And I know what you meant about simplistic…I find that in several pieces of Japanese literature and I don't know if it's a result of translation or actual style.


  4. One of my favourite Japanese writers, although my teacher used to say his style is too ornate and gilded, not really Japanese. You should also try 'The Temple of the Golden Pavillion', 'After the Banquet' and 'Confessions of a Mask'. All worth exploring!


  5. I have 14 book journals, most of which are just blank spiral-bound notebooks (roughly the size of a trade-size book with some sort of pretty cover art), but some are “real” book journals. When I fill one up, I get another, so they're organized by year(s). With the blank journals, I just note the title, author, genre, date started, dated concluded, #/year, rating, and any notes I may want to include in my review. Now that I have a blog, I rarely add anything else to the journal entry.


  6. Now I do prefer sound of this I have read one book by him the sailor who fell … which I really didn't get along with but I may try this one as one book is maybe to little to reject a writer ,all the best stu


  7. Actually, I now remember reading The Temple of he Gold Pavilion which I didn't like that much. So, I guess I have read Mishima, but this is the first book of his I am crazy about. I think his style was more guided and ornate in the Gold Pavilion which was part of why I didn't care for it so much.


  8. I haven't read The Salo Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, but I can see why it might nit have worked. (I wonder if it resembles Hemingway's The Old Man and The Sea in any way :). Really, read The Sound of Waves before rejecting him completely. I have a few authors I should read more of before rejecting…Barbara Pym and Roberto Bolano come to mind first.


  9. You always give me he sweetest affirmation. Haven't I gone a long time withou changing anything? I wish I could get the font that briefly appears in red before it morphs into this bizarre cursive style. Still, I like the red, too, and the retro feel. I'm crazy about Nina Leen's photography.


  10. read this for an eco-criticism class and loved it! your post reminded me that I need to read more of his work: any thoughts on which one to read next?

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)


  11. Hi, L, this is only the second Mishima I've read. The first was The Temple of The Golden Pavilion which truthfully, I didn't like very much. But, based on how much I liked The Sound of Waves, I really want to read the Sea of Fertility series I mentioned in this post.


  12. Beautifully written story. Mishima was one hell of an interesting writer – and person. I've also read Confessions of a Mask and it's curious how different these two stories are in terms of mood and such. When I think of Mishima and his literature I tend to associate him with quite dark subject matter but this is a lovely book.


  13. I haven't read enough of Yukio Mishima to be able to associate him with dark, but I did not like The Tenple of The Golden Pavilion as much as this; I suppose that could be called dark from what I remember of it. This novel, however, was indeed lovely. Now I'll need to read Confessions of a Mask as well as the tetralogy I mentioned at the bottom of my post. Thank you for visiting and keaving your thoughts.


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