MISHIMA! Worldwide Impact and Multi-Cultural Roots

International Conference

18. - 20. März 2010

18.3.10: Akademiegebäude am Gendarmenmarkt, Leibniz-Saal, Markgrafenstraße 38, 10117 Berlin-Mitte | 19.-20.3.2010: Freie Universität Berlin, Henry-Ford-Bau, Hörsaal D, Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem

Die Konferenzsprache ist Englisch. Eine Gemeinschaftsveranstaltung der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, der Freien Universität Berlin und des Japanisch-Deutschen Zentrums in Berlin.

MISHIMA! Worldwide Impact and Multi-Cultural Roots
MISHIMA! Worldwide Impact and Multi-Cultural Roots

Currently Mishima Yukio remains the world’s best-known Japanese literary author. With 289 book translations, according to the authoritative UNESCO Index Translationum, he lies far ahead of Kawabata and Murakami. For decades, his literature has shaped Japan’s image in the world.

In its first part, “Woldwide Impact”, the Conference aims at communicating repercussions of Mishima’s art and existence on the international cultural scene to a wider audience.

The second part of the conference, “Multi-cultural Roots,” will be a more academic undertaking, in which scholars from all over the world discuss aspects of Mishima’s sources of inspiration and intercultural elements of his art.

After Mishima Yukio’s spectacular seppuku suicide in 1970, which made him notorious in the remotest corners of the globe, attention in Japan and abroad subsided briefly, even though throughout the 1970s and 1980s, many translations of his works were published. What makes his impact unique, however, is the extent to which he has since influenced many artists and intellectuals all over the world. Mishima has inspired films, dramas, ballets, operas, essays, performances, and other works of art by well-known figures and cultural icons such as Paul Schrader, Maurice Béjart, Bob Wilson, Marguerite Yourcenar, Hans Werner Henze, Ingmar Bergman, Murakami Takashi, Mayuzumi Toshirō, Benoît Jacquot and Yokoo Tadanori, to mention only some of the names that come to mind in this context.

Perhaps his international impact is also due to the multicultural roots of his own creativity. Mishima himself has stressed his commitment to a multitude of literary and cultural traditions and canons, from classical Greece to Fin de siècle symbolism, from Buddhism and theatrical genres of premodern Japan through twentieth century French or German literature, or from Yamamoto Jōchō, the Japan Romantic School through Nietzsche and Russian authors of the 1960s.

In Japan as well as on a global scale, the time seems ripe to reassess Mishima’s relevance, his fascination as well as the problematic involved. In Japan, we observe a renewed interest in Mishima, as a new generation turns to his work. Mishima, who crisscrossed every genre from theatre to novels, cinema, photographical and other self-performances, as well as bodybuilding, moved freely between high culture and subculture. Is Mishima, who was long traded as a political reactionary, turning into a model of Japanese “cool”, as was recently suggested? Why have artists of the most different kinds of orientation turned to him for inspiration? What are the sources of his own creativity? And what is Mishima’s relevance for today’s world? These are questions which the conference intends to address.



  • Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  • Freie Universität Berlin
  • Japanese-German Center Berlin

Supported by:

  • The Japan Foundation
  • Lufthansa
  • Embassy of Japan
  • Shincho Foundation
  • Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies

Weiterführende Informationen:
Freie Universität Berlin, Japanologie  
Japanisch-Deutsches Zentrum Berlin 
Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies 
Embassy of Japan 
The Japan Foundation 



Opening Addresses

Wilhelm Voßkamp


Berlin-Brandenburgische Academy of Sciences and Humanities


Shinyo Takahiro

Ambassador of Japan to Germany, Embassy of Japan


Shimizu Yoichi

Deputy Secretary General, Japanese-German Center Berlin



Introductory Remarks:

Mishima’s Afterlife in Global Arts, Literature, and Film

Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit






Donald Keene

Translator and Scholar of Literature, Tokyo/New York


Boris Akunin

Writer, Moscow/Paris


Hosoe Eikoh

Photographer, Tokyo


Ivica Buljan

Stage Director, Ljubljana


Yokoo Tadanori

Artist, Tokyo


Hirano Keiichirō

Writer, Tokyo





Panel Discussion with all Presentators:

Mishima’s Artistic Legacies



Welcome Address

Verena Blechinger-Talcott

Dean, Faculty of History and Cultural Studies

Freie Universität Berlin




Is Terrorism Beautiful?

Mishima Today

Miura Masashi





If Mishima Still Treads the Boards

Experimental Research in International Theatre and Music

Virginia Sica





Mishima in the Arts

Hayashi Michio




Lunch break




Mishima in the Literatures of the World

Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit





What is ‘Asian’ about Mishima’s Literature?

Terenguto Aitoru

Sapporo / Ulan Bator




Mishima’s Reception in Korea

Hong Yun-Pyo








Mishima and Racine

Donald Keene

Tokyo/New York




Mishima Yukio’s 'Voices of the Heroic Dead' – a Modern Nō-Play

Rebecca Mak





“The Flower of Evil” in Mishima Yukio’s Drama

David Goodman



Regression of Fin-de-Siècle Aesthetics to Radical Nationalism:

Some Remarks on the Theme of Mishima and Nietzsche

Mishima Ken’ichi





Mishima or Recognition Denied:

Philosophical Subtexts

Gerhard Bierwirth








Mishima and French Psychological Novels

Noriko Thunman





Mishima and the Fascination of Fascism

Alan Tansman





Summary/Final Words

Der Eintritt ist frei. Eine Anmeldung ist nicht erforderlich.

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