Wasabi Stories vol.154: “Coming Across A Life-changing Book”


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Today’s story-teller is Japanese nonfiction writer Yu Sawamiya, 46 years old.

When he was in his twenties, he was depressed and losing his hopes for the future.

When he was driven to the blink of committing suicide, he came across a book.

It was about Yuien, a disciple of Shinran, fell in love with a prostitute and he started thinking about life and death. The story was a perfect book for his back at the time.



In the book, Yuien says, “I feel so lonely these days. (snip) I was standing right here today and seeing passer-bys brought a tear to my eye.


Shinran told Yuien, “You first feel slightly lonely, but then you may gain a great sense of loneliness afterwards.”


Thus, Yuien’s loneliness goes away as he finds love, but there is no way of avoiding the feeling of loneliness for Shinran.

The friend who introduced this book to Sawamiya asked him what he would have found out when he got down to it.

His answer to the question was not to die from loneliness, but to live and write.

He is in his 40s now and he has experienced a number of bereavements.

Sometimes he gets driven by a sense of loneliness in the middle of his writing work. Then he takes out the book and read whenever he feels lonely.


He says, “A book that stopped me from committing suicide gives me hope for living. I was struck by the fact that a masterpiece repeatedly wins the hearts and minds of people.”


The NIKKEI 12/09/2009 Yu Sawamiya (nonfiction writer)


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