Essays in Idleness

June 14, 2011

The daughter of a certain lay priest in the province of Inaba was reputed to be very beautiful, and many suitors asked for her hand, but this girl ate nothing but chestnuts, and refused to touch rice or other grains. Her father therefore declined the men’s proposals, saying, “Such a peculiar person is not fit to be married.”

From Essays in Idleness, the Tsurezuregusa of Kenkō, trans. Donald Keene, New York: Columbia UP, 1967: 37, which was reputedly written between 1330 and 1332. Kenkō, a buddhist priest who reportedly lived between 1283 and 1350, is also known by his lay names, Urabe no Kaneyoshi or Yoshida no Kaneyoshi, and clearly needed more chestnuts in his life.

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