In 1970, Japan's most famous writer, Yukio Mishima, cut open his stomach and was then beheaded with his own antique sword.
His anachronistic suicide has been called many things: a desperate heroic gesture; a work of art; a political protest; the antics of a madman.
But, which is correct?
And, what became of Mishima's sword?
Thirty years later, Christopher Ross sets out for Japan on the trail of those who might have answers: craftsmen and critics; soldiers and swordsmen; boyfriends and biographers; even the man who taught Mishima hara-kiri. Like his best-selling Tunnel Visions: Journeys of an Underground Philosopher, Christopher Ross has written another unclassifiable blend of travel writing, autobiography and philosophical enquiry to create a mesmeric account of modern Japan and the peculiar death that haunts it to this day.
'(Ross's) digressive reflections on his quest are personal, pertinent and philosophical: he gives a vivid picture of a Japan still haunted by nostalgia and nationalism.' The Times 'Entertaining, deftly written and wise!a very good book. Its achievement is that not only does it make the reader learn, it makes the reader think.' Daily Telegraph 'An engaging patchwork of a book, a blend of cultural history, memoir, travelogue and philosophical rumination.' Hari Kunzru, Sunday Telegraph '"Mishima's Sword" resembles a bento, those beautiful lacquered lunch boxes in which delicacies nestle side by side in separate compartments, each a feast in miniature.' New Statesman 'A fascinating read.' Arena Magazine 'Ross is a very likeable narrator, his tone one of respectful curiosity but never superiority!an enjoyable and idiosyncratic look at Japan and one of it's most notorious sons.' The Irish Times 'Ross's book, lucid, readable and touched with sly humour, has put Mishima back together again in all his angry, screwed-up absurdity.' Jonathan Keates 'Highly original travelogue inspired by the life and death of the writer Yukio Mishima. Ross recounts his own engaging ventures in Japan as he attempts to track down the samurai sword with which Mishima was beheaded in 1970.' GQ
Christopher Ross has travelled in over a hundred countries. He now lives in Oxfordshire. His first book, 'Tunnel Visions: Journeys of an Underground Philosopher', was published in 2001.