Japanese poetry is well-known for its clarity and concision, and The Narrow Road to the Interior and Hojoki are two of the best-loved, and most intensely Japanese, works of their kind; famous for their beautiful, delicate verse and subtle insight into the human condition. It has been said of The Narrow Road that 'it was as if the very soul of Japan had itself written it'. It takes the form of a travel diary, and traces the poet's journey from Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to the northern interior. Hojoki, a much earlier work written by Chomei, a Buddhist hermit, is essentially a meditation on the transience of the world. Read by the famous classical Japanese actor Togo Igawa, the full beauty of its ancient cadences and rhythms is drawn out.
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This fine rendering of two classic Japanese tales about the contemplative life demonstrates the power and effectiveness of the Naxos method of combining classic literature and classical music. The modern translations are enriched with verse excerpts in Japanese, traditional Japanese instruments in the musical bridges, and the use of Japanese actors as narrators. "Höjöki" ("The Ten-Foot Square Hut") is the shorter and more accessible of the two works, and Togo Igawa is the more appealing of the two narrators. Takashi Sudo and his tale require more patience, and closer attention. This outstanding production is an excellent introduction to two of the staples of Japanese literature.
Hojoki, like Virgil's
Eclogues, is a poetical hymn to pastoralism. Basho's prose...is equally passionate." (
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Excellent text - hard to hear!