“Momentarily the thought led the lieutenant to a strange fantasy. A lonely death on the battlefield, a death beneath the eyes of his beautiful wife . . . in the sensation that he was now to die in these two dimensions, realizing an impossible union of them both, there was sweetness beyond words.”
Yukio Mishima presents a vivid re-enactment of the last moments of Liutenant Shinji Takeyama and his young wife Reiko as they commit seppuku in the room of their private residence.
On February 26, 1936, there was an uprising (known in history as the Young Officers Revolt) among the young Japanese military officers, led by friends of the lieutenant, who was asked to join them. Unwilling to turn against the emperor and ashamed that he cannot come to the succor of his friends, the lieutenant knows instantly that there is but one outcome for him. Two days later, he arrives home in the evening, dirty and starving, but his mind all made up. On the first night of their marriage, he and Reiko had entered into an unspoken covenant – he by presenting his sword, she her dagger – that when the times comes, they would embrace death through cold steel. They engage in passionate love-making for the last time. Then they undertake preparations. He puts on his military uniform, and Reiko wears a white silk kimono for their last ritual. First, the lieutenant tests the sharpness of his sword by exposing his thigh and cutting the skin, drawing forth blood. Then he moves the sword to his front, and raising himself slightly on the hips impales the upper half of his body at the sword point and the five or six inches of blade is buried inside him, and he utters a sharp cry. Reiko struggles to keep herself from coming to his side, for it is the duty laid on her by her husband. Takeyama then slices across his stomach with his sword, disgorging blood and entrails in the room, and he dies a painful, excruciating death, and their room is drenched in blood. Reiko follows suit, plunging her dagger at her throat.