[Review] The Sound of Waves - Yukio Mishima

Title of Book: The Sound of Waves
Author: Yukio Mishima
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Year: 1994
Language: English
Translator: Meredith Weatherby
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192

Set in a remote fishing village in Japan, The Sound of Waves is a timeless story of first love. A young fisherman is entranced at the sight of the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in the village. They fall in love, but must then endure the calumny and gossip of the villagers. 


Shinji is a young fisherman living in Uta-jima island. One day when he went back from fishing, he saw an unfamiliar face which caught his attention. The owner of that face is Hatsue, the daughter of the wealthiest merchant marine in the island. Hatsue just returned to Uta-jma after a training to be pearl diver. It was a brief encounter, but Shinji can’t seem to forget that face. Slowly they began to acknowledge each other and grow feelings for each other. Set on the island of Uta-jima, The Sound of Waves is an innocent love story between two people who came from different classes.

The Sound of Waves is a simple love story. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with the girl, the girl loves him back but there are obstacles such as third person or disapproving parents. But what makes it different for me is the backdrop. There’s no the hustle and the stress of living in a big city or the city nightlife. Instead, we’re faced with the serene atmosphere, surrounded by the sea and the simple life of fishermen. Of course, considering how conservative the people of the island are, Shinji and Hatsue’s tale is so innocent. I think it’s nice to read a simple love story without the glitz and glam of modern life for a change.

The description of the setting is so engrossing. Sometimes when I was reading the book, I even felt like I was there. I think the passages about the Uta-jima itself is written more than Shinji and Hatsue’s story; such as the nature and the tradition in Uta-jima. But that’s what I love about this book. It’s calming.

Before reading this book, I didn’t know who Yukio Mishima is. I just found out that he’s one of the most important authors from Japan. His more known work is the Sea of Fertility tetralogy which I heard is different from this book. His works are often described as intense and full of metaphors which I don’t find in this book. The Sound of Waves is slow paced and easy to read.

Overall, I think it’s great that the Sound of Waves is my introduction to Yukio Mishima. I don’t feel intimidated by his writing despite of his reputation and I’m intrigued to read more of his works instead. So, if you’ve never read any books by Yukio Mishima, I recommend starting with this one.

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