From Tanizaki, The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi

Junichirõ Tanizaki is an admired master of modern Japanese story telling. Of course, I can only read his works in translation. And this deprives me of getting very close to the author. Still, even in translation, you get a sense of Tanizaki’s great lucidity. He takes you clear-eyed into realms of deep passions.

His story “The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi” starts off this way

There is no way of knowing exactly who the nun Myõkaku was or when she wrote “The Dream of a Night,” but it is clear from the text that she was once in the service of the Lord of Musashi. After the fall of the Lord’s clan, she shaved her head and retired “to a thatched hut deep in the mountains where there was nothing to do but pray to the Buddha day and night.”  Thus it would seem that she recorded her memoirs of the past in the idleness of old age. But why would a nun with “nothing to do but pray to the Buddha” want to compose such a memoir?  She gives this explanation …

We need not read the explanation. We already see by the question that her memoirs are not of the ordinary kind. Something strange lurks in the story. Very strange indeed. We do no thave to read much further to learn of the Lord’s strange sexual appetites.


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