Death in Midsummer (Mishima story)

Death in Midsummer (Japanese: 真夏の死, Hepburn: Manatsu no shi) is a short story by Japanese writer Yukio Mishima first published in October 1952.[1][2]

Death in Midsummer
by Yukio Mishima
Original titleFūkin to uo no machi
TranslatorEdward G. Seidensticker
Published inShinchō
Publication typeMagazine
Media typePrint
Publication date1952
Published in English1956


Young mother Tomoko spends a summer vacation at Izu peninsula with her three children and her sister-in-law Yasue. While Tomoko takes a nap in the hotel room, Yasue and the children go down to the sea, with Yasue staying on the beach and the children playing near the water. When the two older children suddenly disappear, Yasue runs down into the sea in an attempt to find them, but suffers a heart attack from which she eventually dies. Despite a subsequent search, the two children remain missing. Tomoko's husband Masaru drives over from Tokyo and comforts Tomoko, who blames herself for the accident.

During the next months, Tomoko is torn between feelings of guilt, a longing for sympathy for her loss, and fear for her youngest son. When she gives birth to a daughter, she slowly regains her mental stability. Two years after the accident, Tomoko expresses her desire to go to Izu again; Masaru, who at first opposes her wish, finally gives in. While the couple stand on the beach with their children, Masaru notices that Tomoko stares out at the sea as if she were waiting for something.

Publication historyEdit

Death in Midsummer, written after Mishima's first trip overseas from December 1951 to May 1952,[3] was initially published in October 1952 in the magazine Shinchō.[1] It was released in book form in a collection of Mishima short stories by Sōgensha the following year, lending its title to the collection. It has seen numerous reprints and inclusions in anthologies of Mishima's collected works.[4][5]


Death in Midsummer first appeared in English in a translation provided by Edward G. Seidensticker in 1956.[6][7] Seidensticker's translation re-appeared in a 1966 collection of Mishima short stories in 1966, titled Death in Midsummer and Other Stories,[8] which too has been reprinted numerous times. (Apart from the title story, the contents of the 1953 Japanese and the 1966 English anthology are not identical.)[a]

The story has also been translated into French,[9] German,[10] Spanish,[11] Italian,[12] and Russian.[13]


In a 1966 review for The New York Times, critic Robert Trumbull saw Mishima's story in parts as "a sociological study" which "plunges into dark psychic depth".[14]


  1. ^ The 1953 Japanese edition contains the stories "Death in Midsummer" (眞夏の死), "Kurosuwādo pazuru" (クロスワード・パズル), "Bishin" (美神), "Tsubasa" (翼), "Tada hodo takai mono wa nai" (只ほど高いものはない), and "Sotoba Komachi". The 1966 English edition contains the stories "Death in Midsummer", "Three Million Yen", "Thermos Flasks", "The Priest of Shiga Temple and His Love", "The Seven Bridges", "Patriotism", "Dōjōji", "Onnagata", "The Pearl", and "Swaddling Clothes".


  1. ^ a b Yamanouchi, Hisaaki (1978). The Search for Authenticity in Modern Japanese Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 202. ISBN 0-521-29974-8.
  2. ^ Petersen, Gwenn Boardman (1992). The Moon in the Water: Understanding Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 320. ISBN 9780824814762.
  3. ^ Swann, Thomas E.; Tsuruta, Kinya (1982). Approaches to the Modern Japanese Short Story. Tokyo: Waseda University Press. p. 169.
  4. ^ "Yukio Mishima Manatsu no shi". Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  5. ^ 決定版 三島由紀夫全集 (Definitive Edition Mishima Yukio Complete Works). Vol. 18, 4. Shinchōsha. 2002.
  6. ^ Goossen, Theodore W., ed. (1997). The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  7. ^ Mishima, Yukio (1956). Translated by Seidensticker, Edward G. "Death in Midsummer". Japan Quarterly. 3: 315–340.
  8. ^ Mishima, Yukio (1966). Death in Midsummer and Other Stories. New York: New Directions.
  9. ^ Mishima, Yukio (1983). La mort en été: nouvelles. Paris: Gallimard. ISBN 9782070251100.
  10. ^ Mishima, Yukio (1971). Gesammelte Erzählungen. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt.
  11. ^ Mishima, Yukio (1987). La perla y otros cuentos. Madrid: Ediciones Siruela.
  12. ^ Mishima, Yukio (1971). Morte di mezza estate e altri racconti. Milano: Longanesi & C.
  13. ^ Золотой Храм. St. Petersburg: Северо-Запад. 1993. ISBN 5-8352-0291-1.
  14. ^ Trumbull, Robert (1 May 1966). "Encounters With Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 September 2022.