Yoshida Kenko

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  • Born: 1283
  • Died: 1350
  • Other Names: 卜部兼好 (Urabe Kaneyoshi)
  • Japanese: 吉田兼好 (Yoshida Kenkou, Yoshida Kaneyoshi)

Urabe Kaneyoshi, commonly known today as Yoshida Kenkô, was the author of the Tsurezuregusa, a now-famous miscellany.

Kenkô took the tonsure around 1313 and became a tonseisha (someone who took the tonsure, but didn't truly enter the monastic community or lifestyle), something which was becoming increasingly common, or popular, around that time. From roughly 1319 to 1333, he wrote the essays which would come to comprise the Tsurezuregusa.

Though the Tsurezuregusa speaks of a yearning for the past, and a disdain for new up-and-comers (nariagari), Kenkô did not in fact remove himself from city or court life, and to the contrary actively attended social events held by the likes of Ashikaga Takauji, Ashikaga Tadayoshi, Kô no Moronao, and Sasaki Dôyô.

Kaneyoshi, also known by his Buddhist name Kenkô Hôshi ("Teacher of the Law Kenkô"), had no relation to any Yoshida family, and was never known as Yoshida during his life. However, in the Edo period, heads of Yoshida Shinto claimed him as part of their lineage, and made the name "Yoshida Kenkô" widely known. This was detailed in modern scholarship as early as 1964, but Kenkô still continues to be mistakenly known best as "Yoshida Kenkô" in most texts and conventional wisdom today.[1]


  • H. Paul Varley, "Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and the World of Kitayama: Social Change and Shogunal Patronage in Early Muromachi Japan", in John Hall and Toyoda Takeshi eds., Japan in the Muromachi Age, University of California Press (1977), 186.
  1. Kenkô hôshi 兼好法師, Ogawa Takeo 小川剛生 (ed.), Shinpan Tsurezuregusa (gendaigo yaku tsuki)『新版 徒然草(現代語訳付き)』, Tokyo: KADOKAWA、2015.; Linda Chance, Formless in Form: Kenkō, Tsurezuregusa, and the Rhetoric of Japanese Fragmentary Prose, Stanford University Press, 1997.