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The Importance of Names in The Sound of Waves

     In Japanese culture, the truth of a person lies within his or her name.  In Mishima's The Sound of Waves, the protagonist's name, Shinji, means "to have faith and confidence."  When a typhoon hits the Utajima-maru, Shinji is the only seaman who volunteers to swim through the violent waters and fasten one of the ship's cables to the buoy. Despite violent waves and blustering winds, Shinji's confidence guides him through the storm Mishima describes: "The wind came attacking out of the black reaches of the night, striking him full in the body, but to Shinji, accustomed to rough weather, the heaving deck on which his poised feet were firmly planted was nothing but a stretch of earth that was frankly a bit out of sorts."  Clearly,  fierce weather does not phase the determined and confident protagonist.

     Hatsue, Shinji's love, translates as "original thought or idea."  When Shinji first sees Hatsue, she is alone, staring off to the sea, as if in a different world altogether.  Hatsue is an individual.  Unlike the class-conscious society in which she lives, Hatsue clearly does not place value on money or social status.  She yearns to marry Shinji, a poverty-stricken young man,  not Yasuo, Shinji's rival, despite the fact that Yasuo is her social equal.   Hatsue disregards society  to follow her own heart,  supporting  the meaning of her name, "original idea."


Busch, Noel. The Horizon Concise History of Japan. New York.: American Heritage,1972.

Kamakau, Samuel. The Family and Ie. 15 June 1997. Richard Gid Enterprises. 16 October 2002.

The New Parents Guide. 6 May 1999. Saf Enterprises Inc. 14 Oct. 2002.