This fine rendering of two classic Japanese tales about the contemplative life demonstrates the power and effectiveness of the Naxos method of combining classic literature and classical music. The modern translations are enriched with verse excerpts in Japanese, traditional Japanese instruments in the musical bridges, and the use of Japanese actors as narrators. "Höjöki" ("The Ten-Foot Square Hut") is the shorter and more accessible of the two works, and Togo Igawa is the more appealing of the two narrators. Takashi Sudo and his tale require more patience, and closer attention. This outstanding production is an excellent introduction to two of the staples of Japanese literature.
Japanese poetry is well-known for its clarity and concision, and The Narrow Road to the Interior and Hojoki are two of the best-loved, and most intensely Japanese, works of their kind; famous for their beautiful, delicate verse and subtle insight into the human condition. It has been said of The Narrow Road that 'it was as if the very soul of Japan had itself written it'. It takes the form of a travel diary, and traces the poet's journey from Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to the northern interior. Hojoki, a much earlier work written by Chomei, a Buddhist hermit, is essentially a meditation on the transience of the world. Read by the famous classical Japanese actor Togo Igawa, the full beauty of its ancient cadences and rhythms is drawn out.
©2008 Naxos Audiobooks; (P)2008 Naxos Audiobooks
"Hojoki, like Virgil's Eclogues, is a poetical hymn to pastoralism. Basho's prose...is equally passionate." (The Guardian)
The first story in this collection is beautifully translated and narrated. However the narrator for the second story has such a heavy accent and the recording quality is so poor that the piece is
VERY difficult to understand.
Although this title says this is read by one reader it certainly doesn't sound like it. When I got to the Narrow Road, which is not the first story read, I was surprised to hear that the reader had a much heavier Japanese accent. Although I can appreciate this approach it is a little hard to understand and requires constant concentration. Moreover I believe all the haiku are in Japanese - a real disappointment. I give this 2 stars only because it is Basho, but without the poetry, and it is the only version available.
After hearing these two readings I feel I have to try to distill the essence of the stories into as few words as possible. Reflecting the world in a microcosm, distilling life into a haiku poem is illustrated by these two masters of the art. Hojoki's descriptions of the destructive force of the elements - fire, air and earth are terrifyingly vivid and Basho's haiku poems inspired by his travels evoke unforgettable images in one's mind. The beauty of the county conjures up the ink sketches and lyrical woodblock prints of Japanses artists like Hokusai.
It is nice to hear poems in Japanese translated and read by Togo Igawa; to sympathize with the sufferings and hardships of the journey or to feel touched by a parting gift of straw slippers from a friend on the journey.
"Excellent text - hard to hear!"
What a pity, that the editor should have chosen a reader with such a heavy Japanese accent, that it is virtually impossible to understand the text in English! This is hardly necessary in order to create 'ambience'...
Otherwise a great text, and I regret only having being able to hear ca two thirds of it.
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