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A rich, exquisite and original anthology that illuminates Japanese travel writing over a thousand years 'Oh journey upon journey, my life is a brief moment, and I cannot hope that we will meet again' Roaming over mountains and along perilous shores, this anthology illuminates over a thousand years of Japanese travel writing. It takes in songs, diaries, tales and poetry, and ranges from famous works including The Pillow Book and the works of Basho to pieces such as the diary of a young girl who longs to return to the capital and her beloved books, or the writings of travelling monks who sleep on pillows of grass. Together they illuminate a long literary tradition, with intense poetic experience at its heart. Translated and edited with an introduction by Meredith McKinney
The Tale of Saigyo is a poetic biography of the late Heian poet Saigyo (1118-90), one of the most loved and respected poets in Japanese literary history. Its anonymous author followed the venerable poem-tale tradition by using 128 of Saigyo's finest and best-known poems and weaving around them facts and legends about the poet. The result is a biographical journey through his life. Saigyo moves from the life of a brilliant and favored young poet at the Heian imperial court, through a Buddhist awakening that leads him to cast off his worldly life and family ties and to transform himself into a wandering monk in search of salvation, through the vicissitudes of his long hard life on the road, to a final apotheosis as Buddhist saint in his famous death.While The Tale of Saigyo is on one level the story of the making of a Buddhist saint, it is also a biography of the trials and sorrows of an idealized poetic sensibility during a tempestuous time that saw the death of the Heian period, the Genpei Wars, and the beginning of the turbulent Kamakura period. The moving portrait of the wandering poet-monk that emerges through this tale crystallized the image of Saigyo and is felt in such later literary figures as Basho, who acknowledged Saigyo as his model and master.