Persona
Bookmark and ShareIt was in May 1951, when the serialization of Forbidden Colors was in full swing, that another young man, this one a reader of the novel, made bold and sought out Mishima’s house, clutching a sheet of paper with only this request written on it: “Where is the place called Redon, sir, that appears in your novel titled Forbidden Colors? I have come here hoping that you will tell me. As soon as you tell me, I will go away, so please.” It was Fukushima Jirō, then a twenty-one-year old college student who forty-seven years later would be subjected to a lawsuit by Mishima’s children over his book describing his relationship to their father.

Fukushima, who had been deeply shaken by Confessions a year earlier —the shock was “as if a pill resembling a toxin, thrown into my body, had quickly spurted up blue bubbles, without melting, and spread throughout me”—felt exhilarated as he realized that the new novel, Forbidden Colors, was to deal with homosexuality head on. He thought he “heard a clarion trumpet at the launching of a snow-white, sleek new passenger ship with a pointed bow.”

A maid came out, took and delivered Fukushima’s note, came back, and invited him in to a small stylish room. It did not take much to impress Fukushima, a poor student from a complicated family in Kumamoto, but Mishima’s house was in the kind of posh residential neighborhood he had never seen. In ten minutes or so, Mishima opened the fusuma door and came in: “his face lively, fresh-blue where he had just shaven, his slender body in a kimono with detailed indigo patterns against the white ground, which was swished up with a heko sash, creating about him the aura of the son of a good family who might appear in a Meiji or Taishō play.”

While chitchatting, Mishima told Fukushima that the bar in question was in a labyrinthine place so he’d take him there himself one of these days. He then asked if Fukushima had time and, finding out that he did, said he was about to go out himself so they’d go together, and left the room. After a while, the maid came and said Mishima was ready and waiting. He indeed was, just outside the entrance door, but in a completely different garb though equally stylish: “in a light, indigo jacket and snow-white pants and shoes.” After visiting Mishima’s friend, apparently a man of means, for his large house was packed with antiques, Japanese and European, the two parted, Mishima handing him his card with the time and the name of the place where they were to meet written on it, in “somewhat blockish, manly letters”—a café named Redon on the Ginza. In the novel underway, Mishima had switched the locations of two gay bars, Redon and Brunswick.

Fukushima could not believe the famous author would be so casually friendly to him. After meeting in such fashion several times, Mishima finally invited him to a hotel. The result was not satisfactory to Fukushima. In time he would find that he derived pleasure only from a young boy.

Soon Fukushima became Mishima’s factotum. Among the chores he ran—mostly chores that Mishima evidently devised so Fukushima might have something to do—was one that required him to take the unsold copies of his books from one bookstore to another. He also helped Azusa in gardening and other things. He observed how Mishima resembled Azusa in meticulousness and how close he was to Shizue.

That August, Mishima invited Fukushima to beautiful Imai Beach, on the southeast side of the Izu Peninsula. Mishima loved the sea, the ocean, but he couldn’t swim, Fukushima found. (Mishima then went to Shizu’ura, south of Numazu, to “can” himself to write a story for Shinchōsha, and showed its editor, Sugawara Kunitaka, that he could swim about five yards. Watching this, Sugawara guffawed, called it dog crawl, and predicted that anyone who saw his desperate face while struggling in the water would be disillusioned, “even someone who has been in love with him for a hundred years.” That’s what he reported to Kawabata.)

Fukushima also learned that, even after getting pretty tipsy in the evening, and after having sex with him, he could, and would, work through much of the night, writing fluidly in his neat, clear, masculine handwriting in a manner that required little revision. He would sometimes show Fukushima the parts just written, telling him he was weaving him into some of the characters. Fukushima marveled to see the novel that had grabbed his imagination continue “live,” right in front of him, now with parts of himself in it.
Copyright © 2012 by Stone Bridge Press