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  • Primary Colors:A Play by Mishima Yukio
  • Translated by Christopher L. Pearce (bio)

Primary Colors (Sangenshoku) is a 1955 play by Mishima Yukio that brings up issues of homosexuality and bisexuality. Its positive treatment of homosexual themes contrasts with the darkness of Forbidden Colors, the author's novel of the same period. While the play has received only a few professional productions, its poetry and theme help us understand Mishima's developing aesthetic.

  • Primary Colors


1. Volume one through forty-two of this complete works is an unbelievable 31,362 pages. Included are novels, short stories, plays, letters, criticism, and even audio recordings of Mishima. The complete set also costs 255,780 yen (approximately $2,332). It is currently the largest complete works published by Shinchōsha. More information is available at

2. Dōmoto wrote of directing Primary Colors, his first original Mishima play, saying that he was "in other words . . . a virgin director." Primary Colors was not, however, the first play he directed that had a connection to Mishima, as he had staged Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Proserpine, translated and [End Page 246] adapted by Mishima. Mishima praised Dōmoto's direction of Proserpine by saying, "You have a talent as a director." (Dōmoto 1977: 139-140).

3. Watari-zerifu, literally "passed-along dialogue," is a technique in kabuki where dialogue is split up and spoken by different characters. The sequence of passed dialogue ends with all the characters speaking the last line in unison, which indicates that they have all come to an understanding.


Dōmoto Masaki. 1970. Nanshoku Engekishi (A History of Homosexual Theatre). Tokyo: Bara Jūjisha.
———. 1977. Mishima Yukio no Engeki: Makugire no Shiso (Mishima Yukio's Drama: Thoughts at the End). Tokyo: Geki Shobō.
———. 1994. Gekijin Mishima Yukio (Dramatist Mishima Yukio). Tokyo: Geki Shobō.
Hawkins, Joseph R. 2000. "Japan's Journey into Homophobia," Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 7 (1): 36-39,, accessed 29 March 2005.
Mishima Yukio. 1968. Forbidden Colors. Translated by Alfred H. Marks. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
———. 2000-2005. Ketteiban Mishima Yukio Zenshū (The Complete Works of Mishima Yukio Definitive Edition). 42 volumes. Tokyo: Shinchōsha.
———. 2002. My Friend Hitler and Other Plays of Yukio Mishima. Translated by Hiroaki Sato. New York: Columbia University Press.
———. Forthcoming. Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays. Edited by Laurence Kominz.
Nathan, John. 1974. Mishima. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
Ōzasa Yoshio. 2001. Sengo Engeki o Utsu (Shooting Postwar Drama). Tokyo: Chūōkōronshinsha.
Pflugfelder, Gregory M. 1999. Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600-1950. Berkley: University of California Press.
Scott-Stokes, Henry. 1974. The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. [End Page 247]
Christopher L. Pearce

Christopher Pearce is a JET Programme participant currently working as a Coordinator for International Relations for the government of Hyogo prefecture in Japan. He holds a bachelor's degree in the Japanese language from Portland State University. This translation is printed with the generous permission of the Estate of Mishima Yukio.