Kamo no Chōmei Criticism - Essay

J. M. Dixon (lecture date 1892)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Dixon, J. M. “Chômei and Wordsworth: A Literary Parallel.” Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan 20 (1893): 193-204.

[In the following essay, originally delivered as a lecture in 1892, Dixon compares and contrasts Chōmei's poetry to that of William Wordsworth.]

There are few countries upon which nature has lavished so much beauty as Japan, and her inhabitants have not shown themselves heedless of their privileges. In the domain of art the beauties of nature have been reproduced by Japanese artists in a way that has delighted the world, and effected a revolution in Western ideas of what constitutes beauty in ornament. In the domain of literature the...

(The entire section is 3438 words.)

Karel Jan Hora (essay date 1906)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hora, Karel Jan. “Notes on Kamo Chômei's Life and Work.” Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan 34a (1906): 45-8.

[In the following essay, Hora offers biographical information on Chōmei.]

In Vol. XX. Part II. of the Transactions (1893) there are two articles “Chōmei and Wordsworth—A literary parallel” and Description of my Hut both by Mr. J. M. Dixon, dealing with Kamo Chōmei and his Hōjōki—and these few lines are intended to add something to the information given by these articles.


Concerning the time of Chōmei's birth nothing is known with certainty, even...

(The entire section is 1213 words.)

Hilda Katō (essay date 1968)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Kato, Hilda. “The Mumyōshō of Kamo no Chōmei and Its Significance in Japanese Literature.” Monumenta Nipponica 23, nos. 3-4 (1968): 321-49.

[In the following essay, Katō examines Chōmei's ideas concerning poets and poetry. Some footnotes refer to appendices and tables not reprinted here.]


Before Japan was exposed to the overwhelming influence of continental civilization, the Japanese had a language fundamentally different from the Chinese, an indigenous religion called Shinto, and a distinctive hierarchical social system. The Japanese ruling clan, aware of Chinese advanced...

(The entire section is 13802 words.)

Marian Ury (essay date summer 1972)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Ury, Marian. “Recluses and Eccentric Monks: Tales from the Hosshinshu by Kamo no Chōmei.” Monumenta Nipponica 27, no. 2 (summer 1972): 149-73.

[In the following excerpt, Ury provides background for the Hosshinshū.]

In the last decades of the twelfth century Japan was ravaged by earthquake, famine, pestilence and civil war. The burden of these repeated disasters, both natural and man-made, fell doubtless most heavily on the common people, but among the sufferers were also members of the aristocracy, little able to withstand or comprehend fully the forces of social upheaval that threatened their wealth, authority and even physical safety. Men of all...

(The entire section is 1222 words.)

William R. LaFleur (essay date 1983)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: LaFleur, William R. “Chōmei as Hermit: Vimalakirti in the Hōjō-ki.” In The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan, pp. 107-15. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

[In the following essay, LaFleur explores the role of the Hōjōki in the development of Mahayana Buddhism.]

Should storms, as may well happen,
          Drive you to anchor a week
In some old harbour-city
          Of Ionia, then speak
With her witty scholars, men
Who have proved there cannot be
          Such a place as Atlantis:
          Learn their logic, but notice
How its subtlety betrays
          Their enormous simple grief;
Thus they...

(The entire section is 4317 words.)

Ward Geddes (essay date summer 1987)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Geddes, Ward. “The Courtly Model: Chōmei and Kiyomori in Jikkinsho.Monumenta Nipponica 42, no. 2 (summer 1987): 157-66.

[In the following essay, Geddes examines how Chōmei is portrayed in the Jikkinsho collection.]

Compiled in 1252, Jikkinshō is a collection of short tales, or setsuwa, that generally touch on incidents in the lives of famous men in Chinese and Japanese history. Its unknown compiler states that his intention is to produce a sourcebook of moral and social conduct for young men. Apparently written for the youth of the newly rising military families and lesser provincial aristocrats, Jikkinshō sets out...

(The entire section is 4551 words.)

Thomas Blenman Hare (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hare, Thomas Blenman. “Reading Kamo no Chōmei.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 49, no. 1 (1989): 173-228.

[In the following essay, Hare discusses Chōmei's writings, noting that scholars disagree on how best to approach his work.]

The only extant scrap of Kamo no Chōmei's handwriting is a brief note in kanbun, now in a private collection. The some thirty characters on the page, in grass script in a pleasing but slightly busy hand, must have been written unselfconsciously and with little prior deliberation or aesthetic pretense; the note is simply a receipt for the now unknown borrower of seven bamboo sudare: “Of the seven screens, you...

(The entire section is 24926 words.)

Sasha Hoare (essay date 1997)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hoare, Sasha. “‘A Tricky Turn’: Basil Bunting and Kamo no Chōmei.” PN Review 24, no. 1 (1997): 39-42.

[In the following essay, Hoare examines Basil Banting's translattion of Chōmei, commenting on how the experience enriched Banting's other translations.]

Basil Bunting's translation of Kamo no Chōmei's Hōjōki was written in 1932, during the five-year period in which he lived in Rapallo, in close proximity to Ezra Pound. As is widely acknowledged, Pound's influence on Bunting was profound, and the older writer's theory and practice of translation played a significant part in shaping the ideas and experiments of his younger ‘disciple’ or...

(The entire section is 3474 words.)

Rajyashree Pandey (essay date 1998)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Pandey, Rajyashree. “Kamo no Chōmei: Court Poet and Buddhist Priest.” In Writing and Renunciation in Medieval Japan: The Works of the Poet-Priest Kamo no Chōmei, pp. 56-81. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 1998.

[In the following essay, Pandey provides an overview of Chōmei's life and development as a poet.]

While little is known about the lives of many well-known writers of the Heian and Kamakura periods, Chōmei is something of an exception. Genealogies provide valuable information about the Kamo family, and the diaries and literary works of his contemporaries on occasion speak directly of Chōmei's personality or...

(The entire section is 10281 words.)