Yukio Mishima was three times nominated for the Nobel Prize and regarded as Japan's leading contemporary writer. In 1970, he committed ritual suicide by disembowelment and decapitation, his head cut off by a 16th-century sword made by a master smith. He left a wife and two children, and a note on his desk in his study read: 'Human life is limited, but I would like to live forever'.
The sword was returned to his family. There is no trace of it now. Christopher Ross will try to find it, while investigating the contradictions of a uniquely complex character. While he goes on his journey, he will reflect - as he did so well in 'Tunnel Visions' - on what the sword meant to Mishima and on the questions posed by his extraordinary death. Is a real man a man of action or a man of words?
Mishima was also a film director, a composer, and a body-builder who formed his own private militia. He was the first civilian to be allowed to fly in an Airforce jet and circled the globe seven times. He was happily married and also a homosexual who modelled for bizarre photographs featuring martyrdom and suicide. Four members of his militia helped him to his death. All were dressed in sumptuous dress uniforms. Mishima was beheaded by a 25-year-old who was probably his lover.