From the nearby archery range came the twang of a bowstring – a sound that made him think of the cold bite of the winter wind – followed by the dull thud of the arrow striking home as if the target were a slack-tuned drum.

His own heart seemed to him to be much like an arrow stripped of the flashing white feathers that gave it direction.


His Majesty seemed to be rather more frail than his imperial father had been, and although he was listening to the reading of his own composition, his face showed no sign of complacency, but retained an icy composure. Kiyoaki suddenly shook in fear at the totally improbable notion that his Imperial Majesty was in fact suppressing an anger that was directed at him.

“I’ve dared to betray His Majesty. There’s nothing to do but to die.”

He held fast to that one thought as he stood there, the atmosphere around him heavy with the rich fragrance of incense, feeling as though he might collapse at any moment. A thrill ran through him, but whether of joy or dread he could not tell.


The rain was still falling outside the windows and veiled the courtroom in a bleak light which seemed to focus on Tomi Masuda. She stood there as though she were the sole representative of all the complex emotions of man, living, breathing, grieving, and crying out in pain. She alone was endowed with the privilege of emotion. Until a few moments before, the spectators had seen nothing but a plump, perspiring, thirty-one-year-old woman. But now with bated breath and staring eyes, they were looking at a human being wracked by her feelings, writhing like a fish carved up alive for the dinner table.

She had absolutely no protection from their gaze. The crime that she had once committed in darkness had now taken possession of her to reveal itself before the eyes of them all.

from ‘Spring Snow’, Yukio Mishima

Advertisements