Book Announcement: The Sarashina Diary: A Woman’s Life in Eleventh-Century Japan—Reader’s Edition

The Sarashina Diary
A Woman’s Life in Eleventh-Century Japan (Reader’s Edition)

Sugawara no Takasue no Musume. Translated, with an introduction, by Sonja Arntzen and Moriyuki Itō

Columbia University Press

A thousand years ago, a young Japanese girl embarked on a journey from deep in the countryside of eastern Japan to the capital. Forty years later, with the long account of that journey as a foundation, the mature woman skillfully created an autobiography that incorporates many moments of heightened awareness from her long life. Married at age thirty-three, she identified herself as a reader and writer more than as a wife and mother; enthralled by fiction, she bore witness to the dangers of romantic fantasy as well as the enduring consolation of self-expression.

This reader’s edition streamlines Sonja Arntzen and Moriyuki Itō’s acclaimed translation of the Sarashina Diary for general readers and classroom use. This translation captures the lyrical richness of the original text while revealing its subtle structure and ironic meaning, highlighting the author’s deep concern for Buddhist belief and practice and the juxtaposition of poetic passages and narrative prose. The translators’ commentary offers insight into the author’s family and world, as well as the style, structure, and textual history of her work.


Sonja Arntzen is professor emerita of literature at the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta. Her books include The Kagerō Diary: A Woman’s Autobiographical Text from Tenth-Century Japan (1997).

Itō Moriyuki is professor of Japanese literature at Gakushūin Women’s College in Tokyo. His book Sarashina nikki kenkyū (Research on the Sarashina Diary, 1995) is recognized as the definitive work on the diary.

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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