The tropical tree

by Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima speaks of Tropical Tree

The first inspiration for the piece came from an incident which had actually occurred in a chateau in rural France, and which was told to me by AsabukiTomiko, a student of French literature living in Paris. A woman who had married a wealthy old man for his money had devised an exceedingly ingenious and deliberate means of laying hands on his property. She first pressed her own son into incestuous relations. Then, when she had reduced him to a plaything in her hands, devoid of all will of his own, she had him kill his father in a sham accident. She thus secured his wealth – only to have the crime discovered later. The drama impressed me for the boldness of its conception, a boldness unusual in our times.


A few words about individual parts in the play. Ritsuko is an artificially preserved, gaudy, yet beautiful harlot type, whose own emotions never cause her a moment’s doubt. Though at heart she may hate Ikuko, she remains confident in her motherly love; though at heart she may desire Keisaburo’s death, she remains confident in in her own happiness as a woman both lovable and loved.

The final curtainof the play is especially important. In Ritsuko’s last speech about the tropical tree she is, in essence, proclaiming to Keisaburo: “I shall kill you before long.” No special lighting effects are necessary on the stage, but this announcement of murder to come must create in the audience the illusion of scarlet flowers, filling the whole stage with their triumphant blooms. (Y. M.)