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Hōjōki (方丈記?), variously translated as An Account of My Hut or The Ten Foot Square Hut, is an important short work of the Kamakura period (1185–1333) in Japan by Kamo no Chōmei. Written in 1212, the essay describes disasters that befall the people of Kyoto from earthquakes to famine and fire. Chōmei becomes a Buddhist monk and moves farther and farther into the mountains, eventually living in a 10-foot square hut. The work is commonly classified as belonging to the zuihitsu genre.

The opening sentence of Hōjōki is famous in Japanese literature as an expression of mujō, the transience of things:

The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before. The foam that floats on stagnant pools, now vanishing, now forming, never stays the same for long. So, too, it is with the people and dwellings of the world. (Chambers)

This invites comparison with the "Panta rhei" (everything flows) employed to characterize Heraclitus, which uses the same image of a changing river, and the Latin adages Omnia mutantur and Tempora mutantur.

The text was heavily influenced by Yoshishige no Yasutane's Chiteiki (982).[1] In addition, Chōmei based his small hut, and much of his philosophical outlook, on the accounts of the Indian sage Vimalakīrti from the Vimalakīrti Sūtra.[2]


Chōmei's original manuscript is extant, which is a rare phenomenon. Numerous copies have been made and circulated. These are divided into two major categories: kōhon (complete) and ryakubon (incomplete). The kōhon category is further subcategorized into kohon (old) and rufubon (popular), while the ryakubon is subcategorized into Chōkyō, Entoku, and Mana. The Chōkyō and Entoku editions are named after the era date in the afterward and both include extra passages. The Mana editions are written entirely in kanji replacing the kana in the kohon editions.[3]

Size of the hut[edit]

The translation "ten foot square hut" may be misinterpreted. Chōmei's hut is one (丈), roughly 3 meters or 10 feet, on each side. It is thus 100 square feet, large enough to store the Buddhist implements described in the memoir.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kubota (2007:315)
  2. ^ Kamo, Yanase (1967:57, 68)
  3. ^ Kamo, Yanase (1967:154–57)


  • Kamo no, Chōmei; Yanase, Kazuo (ed.) (1967) [1212]. Hōjōki. Kadokawa Bunko. ISBN 4-04-403101-0. 
  • Kamo no Chōmei; Trans. Donald Keene (1955). "An Account of My Hut," in Anthology of Japanese Literature. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-5058-6. 
  • Kamo no Chōmei; Trans. Anthony H. Chambers (2007). "An Account of a Ten-Foot-Square Hut," in Haruo Shirane, ed., Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-13696-X. 
  • Kamo Chōmei; Trans. Yasuhiko Moriguchi and David Jenkins (1996). Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World. Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-880656-22-1. 
  • Kubota, Jun (2007). Iwanami Nihon Koten Bungaku Jiten (in Japanese). Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 978-4-00-080310-6. 
  • Sadler, A.L. (1928). The ten foot square hut and Tales of the Heike. Angus & Robertson, Sydney. OCLC 326069. 
  • Sadler, A.L. (1971). The Ten Foot Square Hut and Tales of the Heike. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-0879-1. 
  • William R. LaFleur (1983). The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05622-1. 

External links[edit]