Japan's capital city of Kyoto was devastated by earthquake, storm, and fire in the late 12th century. Retreating from "this unkind world," the poet and Buddhist priest Kamo-no-Chomei left the capital for the forested mountains, where he eventually constructed his famous "ten-foot-square" hut. From this solitary vantage point Chomei produced Hojoki, an extraordinary literary work that describes all he has seen of human misery and his new life of simple chores, walks, and acts of kindness. Yet at the end he questions his own sanity and the integrity of his purpose. Has he perhaps grown too attached to his detachment?
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