Image of Japanese poet and essayist Yoshida Kenko.

Yoshida Kenko

(c. 1283 - c. 1351)

Born into a family of Shinto priests, Yoshida Kenko secured a place at court as a poet before taking Buddhist orders in 1324. He once reflected on his writing life, “What a strange, demented feeling it gives me when I realize I have spent whole days before this ink stone, with nothing better to do, jotting down at random whatever nonsensical thoughts have entered my head.” It is believed that Kenko’s famed Essays in Idleness did not circulate in his lifetime, but by the seventeenth century they had become popular texts in Japanese education.

All Writing

If you must take care that your opinions do not differ in the least from those of the person with whom you are talking, you might just as well be alone.

—Yoshida Kenko, c. 1330

Voices In Time

c. 1330 | Kyoto

A Time for Ruin

The old are as superior to the young in wisdom as the young are superior to the old in looks.More

Even members of the nobility, let alone persons of no consequence, would do well not to have children. 

—Yoshida Kenko, c. 1330

Issues Contributed