Language and Literature
Worldwide famous writer, body-builder and right-winged guerrilla leader, Yukio Mishima (1925-1970), has been studied from many different angles. Lesser known, however, is his allusions to Latin America and Brazil. The present paper analyzes his diaries written during his travels to South America between 1951 and 1952, published under the title Aporo no sakazuki [The cup of Apolo] (1952). It also covers two of his works that are set in Brazil: the short story Fuman na onnatachi [The dissatisfied women] (1953) and the play Shiroari no su [The nest of the white ants] (1955). In all cases, Brazil serves Mishima as a way to contrast and criticize what he considers to be an old-fashioned Japanese aristocracy. Two traits stand out in his depictions. First, a view of Brazil as an extremely fertile land, a natural utopia, directly opposed to Japan’s scarce resources and overpopulated cities. Second, the portrayal of Brazilians as sexually liberated people, a characteristic he also found lacking in Japan. Following Mary Louise Pratt’s book Imperial Eyes (1992) and Meyda Yegenoglu’s Colonial Fantasies (1998), I will argue that Mishima’s utopian image of Latin America corresponds to that made by travelers and conquerors during their respective pre-modern colonial endeavors. I intend to demonstrate one key historical factor that gives a political explanation: the systematic migration project to the Americas launched by the Meiji government during the last decades of the 19th Century. The ultimate goal of the paper is to show how such imagination endured well into the 1950s.