After Masura Ito and Buichiro Suge had parted from Tanao Tsuruda, they headed towards Udo, a region just to the south of Kumamoto. The village of Mikka in Udo was the home of Ito's elder brother, Masakatsu. When he saw his brother, however, he berated him harshly for his rashness, and would not let him enter his house. The two young men had no choice but to go away. That night they sat down facing each other on the bank of a clear stream behind the village and carried out their ritual suicides with extraordinary grace. People who lived nearby heard the echo of repeated clapping coming from the direction of the stream late at night. Tears filled their eyes as they realized that it was someone clapping in reverence to the gods and the Emperor before committing seppuku.

Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses, trans. by Michael Gallagher, Knopf, 1973, N.Y., p. 99.

PLACE: Japan

TIME: 1930's

CIRCUMSTANCE: Seppuku - ritual suicide



Other than the times he was led before the District Court for preliminary hearings, handcuffed and with a rope around his waist, Isao spent his days in a cell all to himself in Block 13 of Ichigaya Prison. At seven in the morning, a steam whistle blew, the signal to rise. The whistle was located above the kitchen, drawing its energy from the boilers. Though its noise was piercing, it seemed filled with the cheerful, steamy warmth of life. At seven thirty in the evening the same whistle gave the signal for retiring. One night Isao heard a cry while the whistle was blowing and shouts of abuse immediately afterwards. This was repeated the following night. On the second night, Isao realized that that cry, under cover of the whistle, was a prisoner shouting "Long live the revolution!" in unison with a comrade whose cell window was in the wall opposite him. The shouts of abuse were those of a guard who had overheard them. Isao never heard this prisoner's voice again, perhaps because he had heen removed to a punishment cell. Human beings, Isao realized, could descend to communicating their feelings like dogs barking in the distance on a cold night. It was as though he could hear even the restless shuffling about of chained dogs and the scratching of nails upon a concrete floor.

Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses, trans. by Michael Gallagher, Knopf, N.Y., 1973, p. 334.

PLACE: Japan

TIME: 1930's