David Bowie (1947-2016), the British singer songwriter and actor, was a fan of the Japanese author Yukio Mishima (1925-1970), especially his novel The Sailor Who Fell from Grace from the Sea,
published in 1963.
The novel was made into a film, directed by Lewis John Carlino in 1979 after Mishima famously committed ritual suicide in a highly stage-managed public manner. The novel was listed amongst David Bowie’s favourite 100 books.
David Bowie, who also painted, painted a portrait of Yukio Mishima in 1977, which was exhibited at the “David Bowie” exhibition in 2014 at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum in Berlin. The portrait was apparently
hung on the wall of Bowie’s flat in Berlin.
Bowie also owned a sculpture of Mishima
by the Scottish pop artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005). The sculpture was sold at auction for 47,500 pounds after Bowie’s death.
In 2013, Bowie included Mishima’s name in the lyric of his song Heat
from the album The Next Day
, his first album in a decade and his penultimate one. “Then we saw Mishima’s dog, Trapped between the rocks, Blocking the waterfall, The songs of dust, The World would end, And night was always falling. The peacock in the snow”.
Another interesting musical connection is the vocal version of the theme song composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylivian for the 1983 film, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence
, directed by Nagisa Oshima (1932-2013) starring Bowie. It is titled “Forbidden Colours” in reference to Mishima.