“Just now I had a dream. I'll see you again. I know it. Beneath the falls.” – Yukio Mishima, Spring Snow
When it comes to great romance for many of us, the familiar iambic pentameters of two star crossed lovers comes to mind. Perhaps though too few think of “Spring Snow,” by the legendary Japanese writer and samurai Yukio Mishima. Mishima was an award-winning novelist, poet, playwright, and nationalist. He was considered three times for the Nobel Prize in literature.
“Spring Snow” is set in 1912, Toyko, during the transition between the Meji era and Taishō era. The story emphasizes the relationship between Kiyoaki Matsugue and Satoko Ayakura, a daughter of an aristocratic family. Kiyoaki’s true feelings and passion only become apparent when Satoko has a sudden engagement to a royal prince. This leads the two into a love affair that is doomed to fail. Kiyoaki, a cold and intelligent law student, tries to deny his feelings for Satoko, but later is plagued by grief and pain, after he realizes his mistake for denying such passions.
“Spring Snow” is also the first novel in Mishima’s genius tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility. The series is about Kiyoaki’s friend Honda who believes that there are successive reincarnations of his childhood friend Kiyoaki. “Spring Snow” is a master piece that leaks the poetic imagery of Yukio Mishima, and perhaps, a speech comparable to Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be…” that is about trying to change the course of history, or the will of history. While William Shakespeare’s well-known play “Romeo and Juliet,” has traces of one of the most popular poetic forms, iambic pentameter, throughout “Spring Snow” Mishima shows the sheer beauty and power that Japanese poetry can carry despite coming from a completely different culture and time. Using poetic imagery, Mishima, continuously paints images into readers minds about the atmosphere of Japan, as well as the emotions of Kiyoaki.
Whether you are looking for a new love story as great as “Romeo and Juliet,” or just wanting to read a book from a different culture, then you will find “Spring Snow” will not disappoint.