Although Western philosophy and style underscore many works of modern Japanese literature, Buddhism, which came to Japan in the sixth century, continues to exercise a profound influence on prose and poetry. Thematically, many important modern novels deal with Buddhist concepts, such as mujo (the ephemerality of things) and karma. The novels of Minakami Tsutomu and Itsuki Hiroyuki (1932–), for example, are replete with Buddhist settings and allusions. Likewise Shiga Naoya’s novel An’ya koro (1921–37; tr. A Dark Night’s Passing, 1976) is explicitly Buddhist in structure and theme. Contemporary writer Setouchi Jakucho, who has completed a modern Japanese translation of The Tale of Genji (ca. 1008), is a Tendai Buddhist nun.

Historical dictionary of modern Japanese literature and theater. . 2009.

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