After researching about the geography and religious beliefs of Japan, I can now realize how it impacts the novel, as the author has really described the setting and geography in depth. Japan has got a huge population for its small size. Since 4/5 of Japans land is full of Mountains (originally volcano’s). This means many people live in the narrow river valleys along the coast, which means people don’t live equally distributed around Japan leading to many people in a small space. Which means it’s a small area but still loads of people to gossip on Shinji and Hatsue. “Mishima” starts of the book with how small the island is, yet there are so many people. “About fourteen hundred inhabitants and a coastline of something under three miles “. *
Since Japan is an archipelago, there are many islands that make up Japan, but 4 main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Instead this novel is set on “Uta-Jima” Song Island, to show the readers the life and experience on one of these Islands. We learn fishing is a very important part of their day on Uta Jima Island. “The boy often brought fish in this way” suggesting how regularly people eat fish. This is because people in Japan live in a archipelago, so they are separated from the rest of Asia, leading them to build unique characteristics.
Since Japan doesn’t have much farming land, they only have sea, which is why their main food is fish (sushi) and not any other meat or veggies. Having many islands this helps Japan, as each island is surrounded by sea. Therefore fish becomes their main source of food. The fish is served raw, as Japan doesn’t have much trees (oil) to cook the fish, this explains why sushi’s fish is always raw. This shows us how important it is for Shinji to catch fish, because that is what his whole family lives on. *
* Religion plays a big part of this novel. This novel is based on Shintoism. Shinto is a Japanese religion, that has 4 affirmations, but there is one main one which is shown through out this novel, “Love of Nature”. Everything in the novel is based on the sea, which is of course nature. All the descriptions are revolved around nature “The gravestones looked like so many white sails of boats anchored in a busy harbor” This explains why Shinji is so attached with the sea, because its part of his religion, this shows the readers that Shinji is religious. As a Shinto believes that nature is sacred, and to be in contact with nature is to be close to the Gods. *
* Therefore, the geography of Japan and the many religious beliefs of Shinto all influence Shinji’s character in the novel, from where they eat, to how they live to how he loves…