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The Tale of the Heike I did not think I would like this book as much as I did Honestly, farenjoyable than Homer. Many prefer the openings of Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice, or Moby Dick, but my favorite is from the Tale of the Heike There arecompelling translations but for all I know this one by Helen Craig McCullough isaccurate The sound of the Gion Shoja bells echoes the impermanence of all things the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night The might fall at last, they are as dust b Many prefer the openings of Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice, or Moby Dick, but my favorite is from the Tale of the Heike There arecompelling translations but for all I know this one by Helen Craig McCullough isaccurate The sound of the Gion Shoja bells echoes the impermanence of all things the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night The might fall at last, they are as dust before the wind That said, the Tale of the Heike tells the story of two proud clans refusing to fall or blow away the upstart Heike Taira and theaugust but temporarily weakened Minamoto Genji no discernible relation to the prince of Lady Murasaki s novel For a culture that was so entranced by Buddhism, medieval Japan was deeply enad of complicating things Everyone had long complex names most of them starting with Yori , Yoshi or Shige , which makes following this epicof a chore than it would otherwise be There were even two Emperors they had developed a habit of retiring, presumably for religious purposes, but maintained a separate court and a following and, since the reigning Emperor was often enough a child, even a toddler, wielded as much power as the monarchs of the time could For the period preceding this slice of history, the Fujiwara clan actually ran the nation The Tale of the Heike starts with the Heike Taira clan ascendant, with its chief, Kiyomori, the most powerful man in the nation, but hated by sizable factions apparently biding their time in the hills, apparently because of his humble roots and his habit of bestowing the best lands and titles on his relatives the Japanese sense of the ornate extends to titles there are Ministers of the Right and the Left Dharma Seals Chancellor Novices Assistant Directors of the Stables, Punishments Ministers Kiyomori s ablest son preceded him in death, and his remaining heirs lacked their father s political and military genius, so the Minamoto Genji seized their moment The heart of this bloody tale is in its incidents the warrior who wants to spare a boy soldier s life who, realizing that the boy will die by someone s hand, proceeds with the killing so that the killer will be someone who prays for his victim the Abbot Shunkan left alone on an island for plotting to overthrow Kiyomori, whose servant journeys to find him the servant who weighs down the head of his dead master so that it won t be paraded the final humiliation in these times It was a world in which women were expected to take orders and pray for their husbands killed in battle, in which orders of monks quarreled over ritual slights and took arms over politics Pure Land Buddhism in which one prays to the Buddha of Compassion and awaits the Buddha of the Future It is worth remembering that Zen priests blessed the kamikazi pilots The Tale of the Heike is one of the masterworks of Japanese literature, ranking with The Tale of Genji in quality and prestige This new translation is not only farreadable than earlier ones, it is also muchfaithful to the content and style of the original Intended for the general audience as well as the specialist, this edition is highly annotated PREFACE Since around two weeks ago I ve enjoyed watching a YouTube series of the NHK Taiga Drama entitled Yoshitsune with English subtitles therefore, we can follow all episodes conveniently and subsequently by visiting the first one at I hope watching the series should help us better understand the story and enjoy reading the story.Reading The Tale of Heike translated by Professor Royall Tyler was nearly inconceivable to me since I hoped to re PREFACE Since around two weeks ago I ve enjoyed watching a YouTube series of the NHK Taiga Drama entitled Yoshitsune with English subtitles therefore, we can follow all episodes conveniently and subsequently by visiting the first one at I hope watching the series should help us better understand the story and enjoy reading the story.Reading The Tale of Heike translated by Professor Royall Tyler was nearly inconceivable to me since I hoped to read its translated version in prose like his The Tale of Genji Penguin 2003 in which I enjoyed reading, taking notes, admiring the illustrations, etc A reason was that I had read Professor A.L Sadler s Tales of the Heike Tuttle 1972 and enjoyed reading his wonderful prose and 21 illustrative reproductions dated back to 1699 and 1736, therefore, I was a bit disappointed when I leafed through this hardcover because, from Book One Book Twelve The Initiates Book, all are in verse However I decided to have a copy and thought this might challenge me with another way of reading experience as far as I know, this masterpiece was initially and essentially written to perform on stage, to read it is secondary.We may wonder on its episodic stories and importance as related to the rise and fall of the Taira clan in twelfth century Kyoto back cover Sadler , this should suffice in the meantime, that is, The Heike s descriptions of battle resonated for centuries as a model for warrior behavior, and yet its enduring appeal stems from its illumination of arrogance, pathos, bravery, cowardice, love, and renunciation back cover Tyler There are 192 numbered titles episodes in this formidable 13 book epic, possibly second to The Tale of Genji , so there are too many characters, battles, defeats, etc for its readers to remember or even recall without confusion It is no wonder that its literary stature has been rightly compared to The Iliad by Homer since both describe their conflicts, campaigns, victories, etc essential to impress and instruct their posterity and the world in this 21st century and beyond to learn from their mistakes and glory.My review approach to this book is that I would mention briefly one or two episodes that I found uniquely moving as well as exemplary, worth reflecting and possibly applying in this contemporary world First, it s about Gio No 6, Book One , a shirabyoshi dancer and her sister, Ginyo, who has worked in a residence of Lord Kiyomori s successfully for three years Then, another rival young dancer named Hotoke Gozen decides to work under the Lord who, after a tough decision, accepts her A bitter conflict ensues till Gio, Ginyo and, Toji their mother decide to leave and renounce the world by shaving their heads to be Buddhist nuns living in a hut far away amidst wild mountainous region Conscience stricken, Hotoke reflects Pleasure and riches are vanity p 25 and gives a verdict to herself that it is her fault so she also decides to leave, surprisingly, for the three nuns to plead guilty and requests their permission for her to become a nun too The following excerpt is how Gio replies, and the story ends You nursed no grudge or sorrow In only your seventeenth year,you have mastered aversion to this polluted world and longing for the Pure Land.That, to me, is powerful aspiration indeed.Welcome, then, friend and guide in the Teaching Come, let us all pray together The four of them, confined in retreat, decked the altar morning and evening with offerings of incense and flowers, praying with single minded devotion until each in her time reached her goal, p 28 At that time, I think, formal schooling was nearly out of the question and I wonder how they studied and learned to be such well educated ladies their unique, deep rooted culture was so powerful that they were wise, forgivable and compassionate, even to her outstanding rival like Hotoke Gozon You may read her story, Sadler text, on pages 28 41 Second, it is interesting, I think, to note that this book The Tale of the Heike has been gloriously and honorably entitled to the vanquished, not the victor or else it would be repetitive to the prior famous romance Heian epic The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki Shikibu The following episode is the one that deals with a Heike intrepid warrior whose deeds and valor second to none has been narrated famously There was a Heike warrior named Sanemori No 8, Book Seven having worn a red brocade hitatare robe, green laced armour, a helmet with spreading horns, and a gold fitted sword p 369 accepts a fight with Tezuka for a special reason without revealing his name and ends up being beheaded due to his old age And this excerpt discloses about him So Higuchi was summoned.Higuchi took one look and exclaimed, How awful Yes, this is Sanemori But if it is, said Yoshinaka, at over seventy his hair should be white.How could his hair and beard be black Weeping copiously, Higuchi replied, I can explain this, and I will, I often heard Sanemori say, If I go again to war after passing my sixtieth year, I will dye my beard and hair black, so as to look like a young man You see, it would be undignified for an old man to seek to best the young in battle, and besides, it would hurt an old warrior so to be ridiculed and despised So that is what he must have done Have his head washed, then, and see It seemed likely that Higuchi was right Yoshinaka had the head washed, and indeed the hair turned white p 370 Possibly equally moving, this is how Sanemori has requested his Lord Munemori before joining the battle I know that I am far from alone in this, my lord But at any rate I feel acutely in my old age the shame of having set out of the east a few years ago, only to flee back to the capital from Kanbara in Suruga without shooting a single arrow, at the mere whirring of waterbirds wings Now duty calls me to the north, where I mean to die in battle Although originally from the province of Echizen,recently I settled, in your service, on you Nagai estate in Musashi Now, a saying urges a man to return home wearing brocade Please grant me leave to wear a brocade hitatare Well said Lord Munemori replied He gave the permission requested p 371 Therefore, his name and valor would be recorded and read admiringly in Japanese history for ever You may read his story, Sadler text, on pages 123 126 For all of that, I didn t mean this is an easy reading book, some parts are all right but some are mysteriously tough that need one s reflection or research, and if possible, in some exceptional cases, need one s consultation with Professor Tyler himslef I m sorry I don t know how to contact him or if he is available for his Heike readers Ultimately, those who can gain access to its original and can read its ancient Japanese texts should better understand this translation due to their scholarship One of my queries is that, as for the word horse passim , why doesn t it have an s denoting its plural form I can t help wondering if it s due to the spelling notification correction before printing For instance Six thousand horse p 464 The Heike side had stationed over three thousand horse p 480 Surely nothan a thousand horse p 586 etc.In brief, I think this book is worth reading since it isreadable than Romance of the Three Kingdoms Tuttle 1975 translated from Chinese as well as the ones by various scholars because we can follow its story line by line, paragraph by paragraph in italics clearly indicated as poems, speeches, letters, etc supplemented by black and white illustrations drawn by Teisai Hokuba from a retelling of the tale Heike monogatari zue published in Edo in 1829 and 1849 p xi Possibly we may read any number in any book we prefer and take it as a unique history and culture foundation book on Japan A magnificent modern translation of the rise and fall of the Taira Heike clan in 12th century Japan The Heike and the Genji clans have always served the Emperor and the realm between the four seas, but with the Heike controlling a majority of the 66 provinces in Japan, a prominent, ambitious and influential Heike begins a reign of terror that lasts twenty years The Tale of the Heike is an epic poem that is a conglomeration of many different versions of the story that have been passed down thr A magnificent modern translation of the rise and fall of the Taira Heike clan in 12th century Japan The Heike and the Genji clans have always served the Emperor and the realm between the four seas, but with the Heike controlling a majority of the 66 provinces in Japan, a prominent, ambitious and influential Heike begins a reign of terror that lasts twenty years The Tale of the Heike is an epic poem that is a conglomeration of many different versions of the story that have been passed down through the oral traditions of the biwa hoshi, blind travelling performers of ritualistic precision This translation by Royall Tyler contains passages of poetry, prose and oration to portray the various methods used in the different performances.A mesmerizing tapestry of verifiable history and legend, The Tale of the Heike can be intimidating for the casusal reader with its long lists of rosters in court and battle, characters who have several different names, and large number of locales, but the excellent introduction to this work goes along way to allaying those intial fears The patient reader will be richly rewarded.Full of emotion, poltical intigue and intricacy, poetry created on the spot, deeds honorable and dishonorable, and the desire for life after death, this ultra violent to the extreme I stopped trying to keep track of how many people had their heads cut off early on narrative contains the soul of the Land of the Gods You can see it s influence still today in the film, literature and social convention the reverence for the cherry blossom is one of the most notable aspects of this work of Japan This is one of the great reading experiences I ve had in my life I only wish I d encountered it before I had lived in Japan Royall Tyler s new translation is magnificent full of beauty and a strange and terrible glamour The last chapter is one of the most moving passages in Japanese literature But be prepared The Tale of the Heike is not The Tale of Genji The endless cruelty and violence is depressing and the eventual victor, Minamoto no Yoritomo, is a heartless monster. Royall Tyler s translation conveys the tremendous range of this medieval classic, one of the central narratives in the Japanese tradition, and one of the world s great narratives of war Three earlier translations were all in prose, but Tyler uses prose and two forms of verse, following closely the three ways in which the war tale was originally recited, chanted, and sung The fall of the Heike family is a story that echoes throughout later Japanese culture many noh plays are based on events fr Royall Tyler s translation conveys the tremendous range of this medieval classic, one of the central narratives in the Japanese tradition, and one of the world s great narratives of war Three earlier translations were all in prose, but Tyler uses prose and two forms of verse, following closely the three ways in which the war tale was originally recited, chanted, and sung The fall of the Heike family is a story that echoes throughout later Japanese culture many noh plays are based on events from the tale It deserves to be much better known by readers outside of Japan I had such a hard time getting into this abridged version The story itself was fascinating, but I highly recommend that you check out the full and complete, unabridged edition if you plan on reading this. If you like reading about brave and honorable warriors in a strange faraway land, you might like this just as you d like some fantasies, even though these stories are based on historical facts.This is the Japanese version of Homer We don t really know the original author, but we know the stories had been told by traveling storytellers, often to the tune of biwa lute Like this As such, the original text is polished over the years and has beautiful tension Just as Homer s Iliad, it start If you like reading about brave and honorable warriors in a strange faraway land, you might like this just as you d like some fantasies, even though these stories are based on historical facts.This is the Japanese version of Homer We don t really know the original author, but we know the stories had been told by traveling storytellers, often to the tune of biwa lute Like this As such, the original text is polished over the years and has beautiful tension Just as Homer s Iliad, it starts with a salute this one to the Buddhism idea of impermanence.Re the English translationHere are the opening lines and the corresponding English translations Gionsh ja no kane no koe, Shogy muj no hibiki ari Saras ju no hana no iro, J shahissui no kotowari o arawasu Ogoreru mono mo hisashikarazu, tada haru no yo no yume no gotoshi Takeki mono mo tsuini wa horobinu, hitoeni kaze no mae no chiri ni onaji.Helen Craig McCullough s translationThe sound of the Gion Sh ja bells echoes the impermanence of all things the color of the s la flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind Royall Tyler translationThe Jetavana Temple bells ring the passing of all things Twinned sal trees, white in full flower, declare the great man s certain fall The arrogant do not long endure They are like a dream one night in spring The bold and brave perish in the end They are as dust before the wind Note the last second last in Tyler translation line McCullough translates tsuini as at last, which is correct in modern Japanese However, the word meant eventually in the end in classic Japanese, so Tyler has it right, and you can see how it makes sense.ContentAlthough the book is about the rise and fall of the Taira clan Heike , which ultimately loses to the Minamoto clan, and spends a lot of time depicting how leaders of both sides lived and fought, it is not only about the top dogs For example, one of the most beloved story is about a warrior named Kumagai He was from eastern Japan, so he fought for the Minamoto clan In one of the battles, he finds himself chasing the retreating Taira warriors He spots a horseman in an expensive suit of armor, and figures that must be a notable captain of Taira side He shames the man on the horse for showing his back to his enemy They have a duel Kumagai wins, and, holding down his opponent, he removes his helmet to behead him Kumagai finds that his opponent is very young, no older than his own son It is one of those eerie moments when you find yourself alone with the enemy, while the battle is still going on just a distant away Kumagai hesitates momentarily, but the young man urges him to go ahead they fought a fair duel, and he lost If he had won, he would have no problem killing his opponent So what is this hesitation Kumagai is showing Kumagai s opponent is indeed a Taira prince Atsumori Kumagai is not happy with the large reward he receives, however He now understands the nature of war, and life, and he becomes a monk People over the ages felt for the two, and the story is adapted to Noh play, etc Here is the wiki entry, which includes English translation of some verses you can see its influence on Basho, etc Caution As you see in the above example, parts of this book is extremely violent. The arrogant do not long endure They are like a dream one night in spring The bold and brave perish in the end They are as dust before the wind The epic account of the Genpei War Animosity that had been building between the Taira and Minamoto clans ever since the end of the previous two conflicts leads to this, the war that sees the Taira, who had control over most of the important positions at the court, who previously wielded the power from behind the throne, reduced to nothing.It is The arrogant do not long endure They are like a dream one night in spring The bold and brave perish in the end They are as dust before the wind The epic account of the Genpei War Animosity that had been building between the Taira and Minamoto clans ever since the end of the previous two conflicts leads to this, the war that sees the Taira, who had control over most of the important positions at the court, who previously wielded the power from behind the throne, reduced to nothing.It is not for everybody, if you enjoy japanese history, epic poetry and don t mind a huge cast of characters, then you ll probably enjoy this work, otherwise, you might struggle a bit There are many references to previous historical events, both chinese and japanese, tidbits of japanese shinto folklore, buddhism, etc luckily the annotations are there If I had to name a book similar to the Tale of The Heike it would have to be Romance of The Three Kingdoms If you have read that and enjoyed it, you ll love this The way Tyler presents the text, dividing it between the chanted sections, speeches and the songs really brings it to life


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Books can be attributed to Anonymous for several reasons They are officially published under that name They are traditional stories not attributed to a specific author They are religious texts not generally attributed to a specific author Books whose authorship is merely uncertain should be attributed to Unknown.


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