Last modified on 10 January 2014, at 17:26

Yoshida Kenkō

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations — such is a pleasure beyond compare.

Yoshida Kenkō (Japanese: 吉田兼好; 1283? – 1350?) was a Japanese author and Buddhist monk. His most famous work is Tsurezure-Gusa (Essays in Idleness), one of the most studied works of medieval Japanese literature. Born Urabe Kaneyoshi (卜部兼好).

SourcedEdit

Tsurezure-Gusa (Essays in Idleness)Edit

The Tzuredzure gusa of Yoshida no Kaneyoshi as translated by George Sansom (1911)
  • To while away the idle hours, seated the livelong day before the inkslab, by jotting down without order or purpose whatever trifling thoughts pass through my mind, truely this is a queer and crazy thing to do!
  • One should write not unskillfully in the running hand, be able to sing in a pleasing voice and keep good time to music; and lastly, a man should not refuse a little wine when it is pressed upon him.
  • To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations — such is a pleasure beyond compare.
  • A certain recluse, I know not who, once said that no bonds attached him to this life, and the only thing he would regret leaving was the sky.
  • Leave undone whatever you hesitate to do.
  • The truth is at the beginning of anything and its end are alike touching.
  • Ambition never comes to an end.
  • A man who would be a success the world must first of all be a judge of moods, for untimely speeches will offend the ears and hurt the feelings of others, and so fail in their purpose. He has to beware of such occasions.
    But falling sick and bearing children and dying — these things take no account of moods. They do not cease because they are untimely. The shifting changes of birth, life, sickness, and death, the real great matters — these are like the surging flow of a fierce torrent, which delays not for an instant but straightway pursues its course.
    And so, for both priest and layman, there must be no talk of moods in things they must needs accomplish. They must be free from this care and that, they must not let their feet linger.
  • The hour of death waits for no order. Death does not even come from the front. It is ever pressing on from behind. All men know of death, but they do not expect it of a sudden, and it comes upon them unawares. So, though the dry flats extend far out, soon the tide comes and floods the beach.

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