Japan and, more specifically, the celebrated early medieval monk-poet Saigyô have long been associated with properties of ‘nature’. From Ruth Benedict’s postwar work of anthropology The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, to earlier appropriations by nineteenth-century artists of Japonisme, to greenways lined with cherry trees, Japan as nature has been a powerful cultural cliché. This paper traces the misidentification of a key poet, Saigyô, with the qualities of nature, and argues that this rendering of Japanese culture is an ideologically invested part of Orientalism.
How to Cite:
Sugimoto, M., 2017. How a Medieval Monk-Poet (Saigyô) and Japan Became Identified with ‘Nature’. Asian Literature and Translation, 4(1), pp.73–95. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2017.10130