Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sarashina Diary: A Woman's Life in Eleventh-Century Japan” as Want to Read:
The Sarashina Diary: A Woman's Life in Eleventh-Century Japan
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sarashina Diary: A Woman's Life in Eleventh-Century Japan

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  638 ratings  ·  68 reviews
A thousand years ago, a young Japanese girl embarked on a journey from the wild East Country to the capital. She began a diary that she would continue to write for the next forty years and compile later in life, bringing lasting prestige to her family.

Some aspects of the author's life and text seem curiously modern. She married at age thirty-three and identified herself as
Hardcover, 239 pages
Published July 22nd 2014 by Columbia University Press (first published 1050)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sarashina Diary, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Sarashina Diary

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  638 ratings  ·  68 reviews

Sort order
Henry Avila
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Night after night I lie awake, listening to the rustle of the bamboo leaves, and a strange sadness fills my heart"...She walked on Earth 1,000 years ago, looking at the beauty of the Moon shining brightly in the heavens , illuminating the land, viewing the exquisite flowers as they blossomed in many shades, seeing the magnificent snow-capped white mountain top of Mount Fuji and the purplish color below its summit, the prettiness of a blue lake ( Biwa) , still there as waves flowed by on their b ...more
Paul Christensen
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of this woman's problems stem from negative thinking.

She should be more like Donald Trump.

Yet the melancholic beauty of her writing struck a chord in my soul.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lady Sarashina was not as accomplished (or cool) as Sei Shonagon or Lady Murasaki, nor was her life as exciting, but she did leave us some accounts of traveling in Ancient Japan, from one home place to another, and some shrine visits. One can read in her story also how daydreaming - or how we act in certain situations - can sometimes let us miss chances in life that could've made a clear difference. But perhaps the way her life went was the best for her. Nonethless, this makes an easy reading an ...more
J. Watson (aka umberto)
A few years ago while reading some stories on Japanese literature, I came across a Heian classic entitled “As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams” and longed to read it since it’s written as recollections of a woman called Lady Sarashima in eleventh-century Japan, that is, 1,000 years ago. It’s simply amazing how some Japanese women then were so literate that this authoress herself could write “an important piece of Japanese literature” (back cover). In retrospect, we can’t help wondering, I think, how ...more
Justin Evans
A lovely example of 'autobiography', and a lovely example of the two great paradoxes of art and religion:

i) religion suggests that we should concern ourselves more with the ultimate results of our behavior (i.e., heaven, rebirth etc...) than the proximate results (i.e., enjoyment, sensual gratification etc...) It can only do this effectively by using the language (broadly speaking) of this world, because we don't know the language of the next. But this use of language leads us to value the lang
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
Continuing on with my Heian period survey.

I like the translator (Ivan Morris) a lot. His foreword got me excited for the Pillow Book which I’ll be reading soon— he makes Sei Shonagon sound like a brilliant, badass spitfire.

Lady Sarashina, in contrast, is a shrinking violet of average intelligence whose deepest desire is to be left alone with her few loved ones and a wealth of juicy romance books. Like, her fantasy is for a hot guy to fall in love with her, but for her to live on a remote mounta
marissa  sammy
Jan 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people fond of analysis
Recommended to marissa sammy by: i read this for a class
If you ignore the condescending foreword from the Ivan Morris translations, you'll find this to be an excellent, cleverly-arranged book that Takasue's Daughter/Lady Sarashina designed as a multi-layered morality tale about the superficiality of fable as well as a way in which to subvert the Heian Buddhist belief that women could not attain enlightenment. A shallow reading of the book creates a picture of a naive girl growing into a lonely old woman, but if you look a little deeper, the real comp ...more
Mrs. Fujiwara
I spent such a long time working hard on my studies that I almost forgot how much I used to enjoy making reviews of my books, albuns and films, so, thinking about that I decide to continue with this pleasant job. Well, because of my latest activities at a History Congress here, I wrote this article about Japanese Rock Gardens and their connection with Zen Buddhist thoughts at medieval times. It was delightful to learn more about relations between Japanese people and Japan nature as a whole. And ...more
Susan Budd
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intimate and elegant memoir. This is a lovely book. As I read, I felt a personal connection to this lady whose name I don't know, who lived a thousand years before me on the other side of the planet. This translation is by Ivan Morris. It is vastly better than the older translation by Kochi Doi and Annie Shepley Omori.
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
An excellent chronicle, a bejeweled artifact, plume-in-ink'd from the pen of a bookish young woman (known by scholars only as Lady Sarashina) livin' and lovin' in Heian period Japan.

Luxurious observations of landscapes long eroded and scents sadly diminished. The tale much-told of the quest for a book to treasure, a treasured book, in this case Lady Murasaki's The Tale of the Genji ("I was desperately impatient to read some Tales").

Much enjoyment from the introduction - not usual for me, as th
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think of this as an ancient Tumblr; a collection of the thoughts, poetry, daily goings-on and grievances of a privileged girl from long, LONG ago. Indeed the phrase "first world problems" comes to mind.

"Lady Sarashina" was part of a well-off upper class of Japanese women who lived in palaces in the 11th century. We know neither her real name nor this book's intended title - both were lost, and substitutes invented on her behalf by academics centuries later. Make sure you read the translator's a
This slim volume manages to cover an entire life in 80 pages of prose and poetry. Her life in retrospect appears as one long existential dilemma. There are some very sad and touching observations near then end, and you can practically hear the sighs. Beautifully melancholy.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
This is not a "diary" in the conventional Western sense of the word but rather a memoir. It starts out giving an immediate account of a young Japanese girl's travels from the capital (Kyoto) to her father's new posting far from the city. Later, the tone changes and we realise that the text was all written late in the author's life, after her husband's death. She reminded me somewhat of St Teresa of Avila, with her fascination for "tales" such as Genji Monangatari, etc. and her self-castigation f ...more
Dustin Reade
Not a bad read. Interesting. It's something like a thousand years old. Doesn't take a thousand years to read. Some of it was tedious. Some beautiful imagery. Lots of poems and thoughts on the moon and leaves.
This book is an essential for those of us interested in Japanese history, in particular, the women of Japan. The Japanese title is "Sarashina Nikki" or "Sarashina no Nikki." As a side note, "The Gossamer Years" is an account written by Sarashina's older sister which is next on my read list.

That being said, Lady Sarashina's words for the most part are very boring and her character seems to be that of a flighty girl. Sarashina-sama spends most of her youth daydreaming about being romanced away by
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women, psychologists, poets, dreamers
Far more fascinating than Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams was written by an un-named writer and had no title of its own. Born at the height of the Heian period in Japan, she has become known as Lady Sarashina. She is part of a strong tradition of female writers in pure Japanese who were not influenced by the Sino-Japanese of the more well-known male writers. Many of them remained anonymous despite their accomplishments.

Being of the middle-class, these women were
Very interesting and also a bit difficult book to get into. This is mostly because the of text, because even if it's in logical order starting from youth years and ending in the time the writer is an elderly person, it's at the same time very fragmented and has lots of timely gaps in it, which makes the life of the writer that much more harder to follow. Also, the fact that she used a lot of poetry to express her thoughts adds it's own charm and also some more difficulty to the text. Despite the ...more
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, japan
Lady Sarashina may have lived around the same time as Sei Shonagon, but you couldn't imagine two more different accounts of Heian life. Where Shonagon is witty, arch and often cutting in her observations of life, Sarashina is a dreamer who seems poorly equipped for life at court.

Although occasionally frustrating in its slightness, this casts yet more light on an exceptional period in Japanese history -- and the history of literature as a whole. Sarashina describes the world as she sees it in luc
Brendan Coster
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whether it's the author, or Ivan Morris' translation, I don't know, but I thought this was the best written and and clearest narrative of the classical Japanese lit I've read so far. I probably should have read Shonagon's "Pillow Book" first but, I had this one from the library and times a ticking.

I could probably even recommend " As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams" to anyone, in general, it was a decent read and isn't going to bog down a casual reader with 1200 pages of ephemeral longing for the
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-modern
The diary of a meek young girl in Heian Japan who loves to do nothing but read stories, but is sent by her father to live in a palace to improve her station in life. She feels alone and ill-equipped for the rigid social structures and ceremony of the nobility's lifestyle. She and her father weep painfully at their parting. She weeps at her loneliness. She weeps at the memory of cold weather. Catastrophic weeping abounds. It's told in much livelier, ingenuous style than the other book I've read f ...more
Viehättävä mutta etäinen – ehkä se on hovineidon luontokin. Ihastelen tuhat vuotta vanhaa tekstiä, mutta kovin läheiseksi se ei tule. Kirjoittaja on haaveilija, jälkiviisastelija ja jossain määrin tyytymätön elämän antamiin kortteihin. Ehkä liikaakin samastumispintaa...
Susan Budd
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Illustrations and Maps
Sections and Chronology

--As I Crossed A Bridge of Dreams

Index to Notes
Vitani Days
Questo libro ha due principali punti di interesse, quello strettamente documentaristico e quello romanzesco. A livello documentario questo diario apre un'interessante finestra sulla vita delle donne della piccola aristocrazia nell'XI secolo. La situazione che ne emerge non è rosea, poiché queste donne non hanno "valore" proprio, ma solo in quanto madri, mogli, sorelle, figlie di... e lo dimostra proprio l'anonimato dell'autrice del diario, che ci è giunto fortunosamente attraverso i suoi discend ...more
Tsunami Noai
A lovely little book that shows that life was like for one of the not-successful women of the nobility in ancient Japan. Unfortunately, like with many books in the translated-diary genre that is ancient Japanese literature, this volume also suffers from "over explain everything in the introduction." I appreciate what the translator is trying to do: provide context, but half of this book is providing context for 31 short entries in a woman's journal. I already know what to expect from this woman' ...more
omar aguilar
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buen libro. Con muchas notas de traducción, que me hicieron menos ágil la lectura. Pero son necesarias para entender mucho mejorarla historia y el contexto histórico, social y cultural. Con excelente prólogo y un final triste, tal ves simple pero aveces así es la vida. Nos deja un sabor dulce amargo que se impregnada en nuestros corazones. Haciéndonos llevar entrañablemente durante un largo tiempo a la Dama Sarashina.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: università
L’ho trovato un libro molto triste.
Sin da subito, ci si rende conto di quanto la vita della dama ruoti attorno alla lettura dei romanzi giapponesi, i monogatari. Lei sembra quasi perdere contatto con la realtà, in certi momenti: non le interessa andare in pellegrinaggio o pregare, né tantomeno dedicarsi alle tipiche occupazioni femminili.
All’inizio, sembra quasi si tratti di un diario di viaggio, tanta è l’eccitazione della protagonista per il trasferimento nella capitale.
Verso la fine, però, la
A brief but delicately written (and translated) memoir by an 11th century Japanese upper middle-class woman. Ivan Morris, the translator, provides an introduction and annotations that give context to the place, time, and customs of the author. An interesting book, with nice illustrations from a 1704 wood block edition of this journal, current photos of some of the sites mentioned, and old maps which were modified to present the cities and provinces using the English names.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan
  • The Diary of Lady Murasaki
  • The Confessions of Lady Nijō
  • The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan
  • The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan
  • The Tale of the Heike
  • Memories of Silk and Straw: A Self-Portrait of Small-Town Japan
  • One Hundred Leaves: A new annotated translation of the Hyakunin Isshu
  • The Pillow Book
  • Five Women Who Loved Love: Amorous Tales from 17th-Century Japan
  • In The Shade Of Spring Leaves: The Life Of Higuchi Ichiyo, With Nine Of Her Best Stories
  • Japanese Nō Dramas
  • Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World
  • Essays in Idleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Kenkō
  • The Wild Geese
  • Tales of Moonlight and Rain
  • Seven Japanese Tales
  • Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Takasue's Daughter, or Sugawara no Takasue no musume, (菅原孝標女, c.1008 - after 1059) was a Japanese author. "Sugawara no Takasue no musume" means a daughter of Sugawara no Takasue. Her real name is unknown. However, British scholar Ivan Morris, who translated her diary, referred to her as Lady Sarashina.

She is known for her classic Heian period travel diary, the Sarashina nikki.