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Ennin’s Diary

Ennin’s Diary

The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law

Translated by Edwin O. Reischauer

490 pp

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About the Book

This book is the first complete translation into any modern language of the diary kept by Ennin, a Japanese Buddhist monk who traveled to China in AD 838 in search of new religious texts and further enlightenment in his faith. Ennin tells the memorable story of the hazards of sea travel in the ninth century and of his extensive journeys by foot and by riverboat throughout Northern China. In intimate detail, he describes life in the cities and monasteries of T’ang China, the ways of Chinese officialdom, secular festivals, and public events. He depicts Buddhism as a living religion just at the point when it reached its apogee in China, and offers the most authoritative account available of the great religious persecution of the 840’s, which was so critical a turning point in Chinese history.

Among the earliest diaries in Japanese literature, Ennin’s immersive description of ninth-century China represents one of the first foreign eyewitness accounts of everyday life there. Despite its historical importance, Ennin’s Diary has been long out of print, and it is our pleasure to make this great work available once again to the public. With a new foreword by Valerie Hansen, the modern reader will find this account more accessible and engaging than ever.

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