The Sarashina Diary A Woman's Life in Eleven-Century Japan by Sugawara no Takasue no Musume and translated, with an introduction by Sonja Arntzen and Ito Moriyuki published by Columbia University Press will transport us in the old-fashioned Japan. We don't know the name of this woman the author of The Sarashina Diary, because women couldn't receive names in old Japan, that one was another society dominated by men, but we know that Sugawara no Takasue no Musume was the daughter of a governer of an important Japanese province.
This diary is extremely important because it focuses forty years of life of the writer and in this sense it's the diary in the genre more long temporally.
Sugawara no Takasue no Musume was very careful in her entries, because she didn't want to leave a diary just for herself but for the eternity and for being read later. Inspired by other diaries, like The Tale of Genji, the diary will reveal the life of a woman with her intense life, emotions, a long marriage, the sadness for the departure of her beloved ones, registered for giving to the readers her personal emotions, but also nice anecdotes like the arrival of a cat in the house, the beauty of the various seasons during the year, description of blooming trees during spring-time, landscapes portrayed with intensity as when she says:
How I would love to show
someone who could understand-
this mountain village
in the depths of an autumn night,
the moon at daybreak.
Great observer, Sugawara no Takasue no Musume was a lady who thought that women deserved a special place in the society, and more independence. She confesses in the diary, one of the most important ones of the mid-Heian period her love for books and reading like also her relationship with Buddhist religion, her vision of an harmonic, tender world, her worries, her relationship, her first love, her sensations when she visited new places, religious ones included adding poems entries exchanged with relatives and friends via post at first.
This writer gives to the reader what she thinks they should know of her.
Plenty of sense of humor, poems, reflections, I am sure you will love this book from the past. Trust me when I tell you that it doesn't seem so old, because the mirror of life portrayed by Sugawara no Takasue no Musume reflects universal thematics.
I picked up this diary because I love the genre and because Japanese books presents to the reader with their wisdom and beauty am enchanting and relaxing reading.
I thank Columbia University Press for the physical copy of this book.
Anna Maria Polidori