Jakucho Setouchi used to say “To live is to love,” and that is exactly how the Buddhist nun and author lived her life to the fullest before she died last week at age 99.

Setouchi, known for her charm and flair for wit, spent the latter half of her life as a nun, delivering inspirational sermons and carving out a reputation as a popular orator and TV guest. But prior to beginning her religious journey in 1973, the Tokushima native established herself first and foremost as a writer — and a controversial one at that — who penned a number of biographical novels about feminist activists and women who fought the powers that be.

In Setouchi’s earlier works, many people saw parallels to the vicissitudes of her own colorful life.