Forbidden Colors

Item# KINJIKI001

Product Description

Forbidden Colors (禁色 Kinjiki) is a novel by Mishima Yukio, translated into English in 1968. The name kinjiki is a euphemism for homosexuality. The kanji 禁 means "forbidden" and 色 in this case means "erotic love", although it can also mean "color". The word "kinjiki" also means colors which were forbidden to be worn by people of various ranks in the Japanese court. It describes a marriage of a gay man to a young woman. As with Mishima's earlier novel Confessions of a Mask, there is generally considered to be some degree of autobiographical nature in the work.

Major themes

There are many elements Mishima touches on. Two involving the main characters, Yuichi and Shunsuke, are:

Homosexuality: Yuichi's pursuit of his homosexual nature is a driving force of the narrative. Shunsuke's contempt for women leads him to admire Yuichi, whom he feels is incapable of loving women.

Misogyny: Both Yuichi and Shunsuké have contempt for women, and this drives their behavior.

The most basic thematic element is the clash of opposites:

Beauty and Ugliness: Yuichi is considered the pinnacle of beauty, while Shunsuke considers himself to be extremely ugly.

Youth and Aging: The young and old are played against each other. The youthful Yuichi and elderly Shunsuké are at odds, though they are conspirators. The young Kyoko and the mature Mrs. Kaburagi are played against each other for Yuichi's affection.

Life and Death: Shunsuke is obsessed with death and feels it is more powerful than life.

Double Lives/Alter-Egos: Yuichi's entrance into the world of Tokyo's homosexuals causes him problems, as he must hide his nature from his wife and the world at large.


Minami Yuichi "Yuchan": Protagonist of the story. Yuichi marries and then must come to terms with his homosexuality.

Hinoki Shunsuke: An elderly author. He is a misogynist, and makes a deal with Yuichi to get revenge on women whom have wronged him.

Minami Yasuko (Segawa): Wife of Yuichi. She has a history with Shunsuke.

Mrs. Kaburagi: A former lover of Shunsuke and blackmailer. She is well known for her marital infidelities.

Kaburagi Nobutaka: A former count and partner in crime to his wife. He played the cuckold to help his wife blackmail Shunsuke.

Hodaka Kyoko: A young married woman who falls in love with Yuichi.

Rudy: Owner of The Rudon, a public house patronized primarily by homosexual clients. Rudy is a foreigner living in Japan.