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Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World
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Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  114 ratings  ·  17 reviews
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 th ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published July 1st 1998 by Stone Bridge Press (first published 1975)
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As I understand it, Hojoki is read by every Japanese student in school and had a great influence on much that was subsequently written in Japanese. It is one of the key texts of the Japanese culture. Written by Kamo no Chomei in 1212 during the collapse of the Heian dynasty, it is a poetically dense text, whether it is rendered in free verse, as is done in this book, or into prose, as is done by Donald Keene in his pioneering Anthology of Japanese Literature .

An earlier reviewer wrote "Howe

The flowing river
never stops
and yet the water
never stays
the same.

Foam floats
upon the pools,
scattering, re-forming,
never lingering long.

So it is with man
and all his dwelling places
here on earth.


Hojoki is a short poetic meditation in life and impermanence. It talks on brief flashes about great fires, earthquakes, and other catastrophes, but it is not a wholly melancholic poem. The closing l
This is an amazing little gem, and its applicability for today is amazing! If you can find this, please spare the twenty or so minutes it would take for reading this, it truly is something to help put you back into reality.
Thanks to Capsguy for this. For a text that is 800 years old it has major relevance to today. A kind of Buddhist ode to downsizing and I can certainly relate. I wish I could read Japanese, I'm sure there are nuances in the language that translate even more poetically.
Gertrude & Victoria
Written in 1212, Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World is a perennial work of wisdom. Kamo-no-Chomei is a monk, a poet and a chronicler of the Heian Period, and this work is as much a historical account as it is poetry and fable.

As with all translations of poetry, it is a herculean task to capture both the technical features as well as the meaning in its original, uncompromised and intended form without diminishing the work in any way. This translation appears to have accomplished both to a satisfacto
Chris Watson
An enjoyable book, really, I liked it, it has pathos and philosophy, but...

This is apparently a Japanese classic. It seems to me Japanese art and culture has some parallels with Japanese food.

When you live in the West, Japanese food seems quite appealing, based on an occasional visit to a Japanese restaurant; but living here, you realise how unsatisfying and lacking in nourishment it is when eaten all the time - the Japanese are half-starved, preventable birth defects are too common and the elde
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Matthew Gatheringwater
If you conform to the world
it will bind you hand and foot.

If you do not, then
it will think you mad.

And so the question
where should we live?
And how?

Where to find
a place to rest a while?

And how bring
even short-lived peace
to our hearts?

The author of these words, Kamo no Chomei, had reason to long for peace. He had survived fire, whirlwind, famine, earthquake, and political upheaval. By 1212, he described himself as “an old silkworm spinning one last cocoon.” He built a modest hut of only ten square
Francisco Becerra
A powerful story that teaches you how to be aware of the details, that added together, make life. A journey of questions and meditations valid through all ages.
I understand why this book is a classic. This is written by someone who has seen disaster after disaster strike cities, and seen how both the rich and the poor have their own troubles.

And finally, he talks about his simple life. And, at the end, he self-identifies as a hipster -- he knows that his "simple" life is done in imitation of other monks, and that his simple house is built in the style of another monk, and that when it comes down to it, he's not all that modest and humble.

It's clean, a
Bridie  Knight
Like a long cool drink on a hot day. I love books like this, lyrical and descriptive, philosophical depictions of a life.
Its a very short book and well worth the read. The motif of 'house' runs throughout and is a yardstick to the authors growth and life experience.
From the ruin of a city due to fire, his removal from the family manse to more humble dwellings, and then even smaller living arrangements that although meagre in size and construction sounded just right in its setting, an apt analogy
I wasn't terribly impressed with this work, and I suspect that it is because Japanese verse is gorgeous visually and delightful to the ears- none of which gets translated into English. Having only read this English translation, I am left simply with the content. It is interesting enough, but not terribly engaging. But, if you are interested in Japan at all this is a very influential and important work.
Short but effective. The author's work covers the evanescent world and how that manifests in Japanese society, especially regarding housing and interpersonal relations. The translation is well done (i.e., without awkward phrasing or obscure words), and I liked the reformatting of the work into poetry. Quick read but definitely interesting.
Dec 18, 2013 Matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Dylan, Brent
"Fish do not weary of the water, but unless one is a fish one does not know why.

Birds long for the woods, but unless one is a bird one does not know why.

The joys of solitude are similar. Who could understand them without having lived here?"

This is a surpringly relevant meditation on the nature of life. This translation is crisp and delightful. I reccomend Hojoki as something to read slowly on a quiet morning or in the light of a sunset.
Ana Luković
Hojoki is a vivid picture portraying a story of a lost world and a civilization engulfed in flames, both literally and metaphorically and the striving of one man to rise above the ensuing chaos.
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Ricordi un eremo Notebook of a Ten-Square Rush Mat Sized World (HO - JO - KI) Un relato desde mi choza (HOOJOOKI) Ten Foot Square Hut and Tales of the Heike Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World (Rock Spring Collection of Japanese Literature)

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