Jakucho Setouchi

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Jakucho Setouchi
Setouchi Jakucho.png
Born (1922-05-15) 15 May 1922 (age 97)
Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan
Notable worksKashin, Natsu no Owari, Hana ni Toe

Jakucho Setouchi (瀬戸内 寂聴, Setouchi Jakuchō, born May 15, 1922), formerly Harumi Setouchi (瀬戸内 晴美, Setouchi Harumi), [1] is a Buddhist nun, writer, and activist. [2] [3] Setouchi is noted for her biographical novels written as first-person narratives. [4]


Early career

Setouchi was born in Tokushima, Tokushima Prefecture to a family that dealt in the sale of religious goods. [3] She attended Tokyo Woman's Christian University and graduated with a degree in Japanese literature. Setouchi married a foreign exchange student sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Beijing. She returned to Japan in 1946 with her daughter. [5] After a love affair with one of her husband's students, she left her house and got an official divorce before leaving for Tōkyō and in order to pursue a writing career.

Setouchi's first literary award reception for Kashin was criticized as pornography. Upon being awarded the Women's Literary Prize in 1963 for Natsu no Owari, she proved herself as a writer. [3] She has also received one of Japan's more prestigious literary awards, the Tanizaki Prize for her novel Hana ni Toe in 1992. [5]


In 1973 she took vows and became a Buddhist nun in the Tendai school of Buddhism. In 2007 she was installed as a nun at Chūson-ji, a temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, and received her name Jakuchō. [3] Her name means "silent, lonely listening." [2] At this time Setouchi also became a social activist, built a center for women, and became a spiritual advisor. [6] She is noted for her opposition to the death penalty in Japan.

The Tale of Genji

Setouchi's vernacular translation of The Tale of Genji from Classical Japanese was published in ten volumes in 1998. The translation used a contemporary voice of the Japanese language and emphasized the heroines of The Tale of Genji over its main character, Genji. [7] The novel was a best seller, and sold more than 2.1 million volumes. [5] [8]


Later career

Setouchi served as president of Tsuruga College in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, from 1988 to 1992. [5] She received the Japanese Order of Culture in 2006. [5]


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  2. 1 2 Harding, Christopher. Couched In Kindness: "Jakucho Setouchi: a revered nun and famous novelist " Aeon Magazine. .
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