Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Uta-jima (ew-tah-jee-muh). Japanese island, whose name translates as “Song Island,” that provides the novel’s central setting. With a coastline of less than three miles, the tiny island is located near the Gulf of Ise, which opens into the Pacific Ocean. The island is rocky, wooded, and not good for agriculture. Its residents’ lives are shaped by the patterns of the sea: fishing, shipping, weather, and waves. Most of the islanders are involved in fishing for octopus and squid or diving for abalone, pearls, or seaweed.

Yukio Mishima describes the island as a place of astounding beauty with coastline vistas, ancient pine forests, rocky promontories, and a gorgeous shrine dedicated to the god of the sea. Its residents live in a kind of pastoral serenity. The island itself functions as a character in the novel because of the idyllic peacefulness, isolation, and simplicity of the lives of the people who live there. In many ways, Kerukichi Miyata, the father of Hatsue, represents the values of the island. He is the personification of Uta-jima’s toil, ambition, and strength with his uncannily accurate weather predictions, his superior experience in all matters of fishing and navigation, and his great pride in knowing all the history and traditions of island culture.


*Okinawa (oh-kih-naw-wah). Island south of Japan that is part of the Ryukyu chain of islands, where Shinji goes as a...

(The entire section is 515 words.)