Travelers of a Hundred Ages

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Travelers of a Hundred Ages is a nonfiction work on the literary form of Japanese diaries by Donald Keene, who writes in his Introduction that he was introduced to Japanese diaries during his work as a translator for the United States in World War II when he was assigned to translate captured diaries of soldiers; he found them moving enough that he continued to study that genre. Keene's book takes the form of self-contained long chapters (originally published as independent essays in Japanese in Asahi Shimbun) that deal with a single diary, each of which is valuable in its own right as a literary work [1] This treatment is especially apparent when Keene writes of Matsuo Bashō's travel diaries, such as The Narrow Road to the North, or provides a window into an author's life, such as in the case of Fujiwara no Teika's Meigetsuki ("Chronicle of the Clear Moon").

Travelers of a Hundred Ages: The Japanese as Revealed Through 1,000 Years of Diaries
Author Donald Keene
Cover artist Cover design by Susan Hood
Country USA
Language English
Subject Japanese diaries and literature
Genre Academic
Publisher Henry Holt and Company, Inc.
Publication date
Media type Trade paperback
Pages 468 (1st edition; including index)
ISBN 0-8050-0751-2 (1999 Columbia University Press edition: ISBN 0-231-11437-0)
OCLC 18835736
895.6/803 19
LC Class PL741.1 .K44 1989

There are variant versions of Travelers of a Hundred Ages; the original English version published by Henry Holt deals with diaries between the 850s CE and up to c. 1850, while the Japanese version has a continuation that brings the time span up to c. 1925, in addition to certain chapters that were omitted from the Holt edition "because it seemed unlikely that they would interest readers outside Japan".[2] An expanded edition was later published by Columbia University Press in 1999.

Thematically, the essays are grouped by historical period. Names are given Japanese-style, family name first.


"Heian Diaries"[edit]

Diaries of the Kamakura Period[edit]

Diaries of the Muromachi Period[edit]

Diaries of the Early Tokugawa Period[edit]

Bashō's Diaries[edit]

Diaries of the Later Tokugawa Period[edit]


  1. ^ "... but, as far as I know, only in Japan did the diary acquire the status of a literary genre comparable in importance to novels, essays, and other branches of literature that elsewhere are esteemed more highly than diaries." pg 1, Introduction of the Holt edition.
  2. ^ pg xi of the 1st Henry Holt edition, Preface.