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Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  366 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
A luminous translation of the classic Buddhist poem
ebook, 96 pages
Published July 1st 1998 by Stone Bridge Press (first published 1212)
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Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Below the crimson skies shivers the last leaf,
Sings the blue bird, songs of a lonely tree
I wonder where, swallowed by the spring rain,
Floats the leaf, to claim a spotted grave
The sounds from Hojoki deeply permeate,
Heart of a one-room hut, poetry and music rhyme
Nestled within an early bud, what do I see?
Glimpses of Lotus Sutra, one man’s pilgrimage.

Five deciding elements of nature persuading the humble origin of the supreme fruition of man conceptualising the ephemeral life, the sensibility of ma

- Calligraphy by Hon'ami Kōetsu (1558–1637), Underpainting attributed to Tawaraya Sōtatsu (died ca. 1640), Poem by Kamo no Chomei (ca. 1154 – 1216)

If we follow the ways of the world, things are hard for us; if we refuse to follow them, we appear to have gone mad.

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 d
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, japan

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
Mohammad Ali

به نظرم اصل کتاب، کتابی است موفق در بیان گذرا بودن جهان و فناپذیری آدم و عالم و ضرورت عدم تعلق

ترجمه یه جاهایی ابهام داشت یا منطقا آدمو متحیر می کرد. همین باعث شد من پراکنده به این ترجمه ی انگلیسی مراجعه کنم. مقایسه با اون متن باعث شد هم اون مشکلات فهمم از بین بره و هم بفهمم که ظاهرا نسخه ی مبنای مترجم انگلیسی و مترجم فارسی متفاوته. چون متن انگلیسی اضافات داره - خصوصا در آخر کتاب. اگر ترجمه معقول تر و روان تر بود بهش چهار ستاره می دادم. البته ذکر این نکته ضروریه که ترجمه ی انگلیسی ساده شده، یعنی
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kamo no Chomei (about 1155-1216 CE) was a low-level Japanese aristocrat during the late Heian Period and Early Kamakura Period. Having experienced frustrations in terms of political advancement and having lived through a series of natural disasters, he became a Buddhist monk, a recluse, and an author. His short work, Hojoki (variously translated into English as An Account of My Hut or An Account of a Ten-Foot Hut), has become a Japanese classic, an exposition of the Buddhist insight of impermane ...more
Susan Budd
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hojoki epitomizes the Japanese concept of mono no aware, an appreciation for the impermanence of beauty. I've read three translations of this sublime little book. The other two are by Burton Watson (Four Huts) and Meredith McKinney (Essays in Idleness and Hojoki). Each of the three translations has its merits and all are worth reading. In fact, reading all three has increased my appreciation for this masterpiece. However, the Yasuhiko Moriguchi and David Jenkins translation is my favorite for it ...more
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.
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2011-read
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.
میان دو کس, چون زن و مرد هایی که به سختی از هم جدا می شدند, آن که عشقش عمیق تر بود اول می مرد.
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
Akemi G
Mediocre. About the only good part is the opening paragraph, and even that, I think it is cliched. I'm sure the symbolism of a river was popular in his time already. Chomei is a lay monk, and I think his understanding of impermanence is shallow, only in his head.

Please don't judge Japanese classics by this book! If you like reading essays, try Essays in Idleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko (written by another lay monk) or The Pillow Book (written by a court lady). If you want to know about the
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
In middle (ish) of the Tale of Heike and saw this was concurrent and found a couple translations online. Not that I didn't 'believe' what was happening in Heike, but I also know the Tale is questionably historic. I was taken back a little to read some of the same events happening in the Hojoki. I mean, I guess that's exactly why you read up on source material - to get that element of realism.

It also had an immediacy that Heike does not always have - the beginning of the Hojiki has some stark de
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
Juli Anna
I only read the beginning essay, "The Ten Foot Square Hut," which is too short to publish on its own. Easily read in an hour or less, with some interesting accounts of medieval Japanese history, as well as insights on living simply. This guy was the original Thoreau, and way more hardcore. He lived in a TEN-SQUARE-FOOT house! Henry David ain't got nothing on that.
La vida cabe en un pequeño rollo manuscrito, es una sucesión e desgracias, que no tienen importancia; es una serie de viviendas que van haciéndose cada vez más diminutas; son pequeñas sensaciones, pequeños animales que cruzan un espacio que ya no puede ser considerado mío. Es la pesada soberbia de una voz que se declara humilde y que busca callar, pero debe cantar desde la choza de la que se siente peligrosamente orgulloso su canción.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university, japanese
Like many books belonging to the Japanese culture, Hojoki puts forward the irreplaceable tranquility of the quiet, isolated life. I must say I took great pleasure in reading this book and I couldn't help but notice that the last part is very reminiscent to Thoreau's Walden, even though they have been written almost six centuries apart. It is really nice to see that unlike many other things, the impact of nature is timeless.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning meditation on impermanence. Lyrical and reflective, Hojoki is as relevant today as it was in the time of upheaval in which Chomei wrote.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Devastatingly beautiful!!
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, poetry
I wish I could read this in its original language. Some really interesting images.
a. lynn
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-lit
I am glad to have read such an important piece of history as Hojoki. It is a short, easy read, so there's really no excuse not to. I was surprised by how much I had in common with Chomei, how we shared views on the world and other people, despite the incredible distance of time and place between us. A few lines in particular, which start, "Men of means have much to fear. Those with none know only bitterness", and ends, "And how to bring even short-lived peace to our hearts?" resonated with me mo ...more
Mar 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Hay una historia típica, no sólo en China y Japón: un cortesano, frustrado por la decepción y el hastío, abandona la comodidad de los palacios y se exilia a la Naturaleza, como monje o anacoreta. A Kamo no Chomei, el autor del Hojoki, le tocó vivir en los ingratos tiempos en los que Japón caía de su antigüedad clásica hacia su versión de la Edad Media euroasiática. Su mundo dejó de ser, y no solamente en el reino de lo simbólico y la metáfora: un incendio, un ciclón, una hambruna y la ruina de K ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La literatura japonesa siempre puede darte más de lo que esperas. No tengo muchos autores en mi haber y me debía algo de un período más antiguo.
Este libro fue escrito en 1700, es una biografía de Chomei, un desterrado que vivió en carne propia mucho de los desastres naturales más grandes de la época. Como siempre (y esto es aún más intenso en autores del medioevo) la poesía atraviesa todo el relato, incluso podrían pensarse como haikus.
Impecable la traducción, el relato no pierde ritmo ni armoní
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.
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tsurezuregusa徒然草 e Hōjōki 方丈記. Gli zuihitsu, quando la "mano segue il pennello": zibaldoni di pensieri, brandelli di ricordi, appunti, divagazioni del tutto buttati giù a caso.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Began the year by rereading Soseki's masterful translation of the medieval classic Hōjōki 方丈記. The edition also contains a text of the original (incorrectly labeled "modern Japanese") and an essay by Soseki that draws some interesting comparisons with recluse writings in the West.
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Kamo no Chōmei (鴨 長明?, 1153 or 1155–1216) was a Japanese author, poet (in the waka form), and essayist. He witnessed a series of natural and social disasters, and, having lost his political backing, was passed over for promotion within the Shinto shrine associated with his family. He decided to turn his back on society, took Buddhist vows, and became a hermit, living outside the capital. This was ...more
More about Kamo no Chōmei...
“The flow of the river is ceaseless; and its water is never the same.
The foam that floats in the pools
Now gathering, now vanishing
Never lasts long. So it is with man
and all his dwelling places on this earth.”
“Reality depends upon your mind alone.[34] If your mind is not at peace what use are riches?” 1 likes
More quotes…