Synopses & Reviews
Japan's capital city of Kyoto was devastated by earthquake, storm, and fire in the late 12th century. Retreating from "this unkind world," the poet and Buddhist priest Kamo-no-Chomei left the capital for the forested mountains, where he eventually constructed his famous "ten-foot-square" hut. From this solitary vantage point Chomei produced Hojoki
, an extraordinary literary work that describes all he has seen of human misery and his new life of simple chores, walks, and acts of kindness. Yet at the end he questions his own sanity and the integrity of his purpose. Has he perhaps grown too attached to his detachment?
"Presents us with insight anew into the depth, compassion, and wisdom of this exquisite classic." -New Asia Review
"Poet, reporter, social philosopher, monk, Kamo-no-Chomei is one of the great noble and solitary figures in all of Japanese literature, his incomparable Hojoki as relevant today as it was eight hundred years ago. Thanks to Yasuhiko Moriguchi and David Jenkins for this luminous translation and for their brilliant introduction to the ancient masterpiece." -Sam Hamill
The single great work of literary witness in medieval Japan, Hojoki is a short social chronicle prompted by a series of calamities that overtook old Kyoto in the late 12th century. By building a rude home in the forest and eliminating desire, poet and Buddhist priest Chomei believed he would be spared the anguish that had befallen the townspeople. Yet at the end we find the author consumed with self-doubt, questioning his own sanity and the integrity of his purpose. His voice reaches out from the distant past and speaks directly to our hearts, surprisingly modern and intensely human.
An extraordinary literary work from the 12th century, a meditation on nature and mortality.
About the Author
Yasuhiko Moriguchi and David Jenkins are writers, teachers, and translators living in Kyoto.