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(1212; tr An Account of My Hut, 1955). A short work in the zuihitsu (essay) mode by the elderly recluse Kamo no Chōmei (1156?-1216). In its opening passage the impermanence of life (mujō) is conveyed by likening man and his dwellings to the flow of a river and the bubbles that form and vanish along its surface. To convey the perils that await those who wed their fates to the worldly splendors of the capital, Chōmei then relates fives disasters he has witnessed: a fire, a whirlwhind, the ill-fated attempt to move the capital, a famine, and an earthquake. By contrast, the second half of the Hōjōki describes the simple joys and tranquility of the reclusive life. In a terse closing passage, however, Chōmei questions whether his own love of the contemplative life is not itself a form of earthly desire. The Hōjōki exemplifies the numerous meditations on impermance written by Japanese Buddhist monks living in seclusion. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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