Books / Reviews

The Sarashina Diary

by Madeline Barbush

Staff Writer

The author known as Takasue’s Daughter, or Lady Sarashina, kept a diary to mark her bold 11th-century journey from the east of Japan to the capital. So enthralled did she become with writing that she continued for 40 more years, producing an account that holds up fantastically for 21st-century readers.

The Sarashina Diary, by Sugawara no Takasue no Musume Translated by Sonja Arntzen, Moriyuki Ito.
Columbia University Press, Nonfiction.

She filled her text with insights and a sense of empowerment unsuitable for the public eye, especially as a mother and wife, and her written truths prove the healing powers of literature. Passages mixing narration and poetry are interwoven to form the story of her renunciation of the world and her simultaneous understanding of it. A thousand years later, her legacy is renewed through this great translation.