徒然草 (Tsurezuregusa)

13 Jul 2017

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Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness, alternatively: The Harvest of Leisure) is a collection of Japanese essays written by the monk Yoshida Kenkō between 1330 and 1332.
Tsurezuregusa comprises a preface and 243 passages (段, dan), varying in length from a single line to a few pages. Kenkō, being aBuddhist monk, writes about Buddhist truths, and themes such asdeath and impermanence prevail in the work, although it also contains passages devoted to the beauty of nature as well as some on humorous incidents. The original work was not divided or numbered; the division can be traced to the 17th century.

The work takes its name from its preface passage:


What a strange, demented feeling it gives me when I realise I have spent whole days before this inkstone, with nothing better to do, jotting down at random whatever nonsensical thoughts that have entered my head.

where つれづれ (tsurezure) means “having nothing to do.”

I read the modern translation, it was very funny…

Here i translate some of them in which i found humorous sense.

– No.198

There is a post called ”an honorary consultant”, and what is more, there is also a post ”an honorary consultant”. It doesn’t matter.

– No. 209

One man lost a case about ownership of rice field in a court. He was frustrated and ordered his servants to cut all of rices in the field before its harvest. The servants were cutting rices over the area of the lost field. They were questioned why they were so stupid to mess around the field outside of the lost area. Because it doesn’t make sense. They answered that there is no excuse to cut the rices in the lost field anyway, so we committed a wrongdoing then we work over more at random. Because anyway we were wrong.

It is a quibble, but actually make sense.