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“The Holy Man of Mount Koya” and The Narrow Road to Oku” Compare Emotions in Journey Narratives Essay


The descriptions of journeys are an important part of the Japanese literature, and they are associated with the presentation of the people’s journey to find new experiences, knowledge, and wisdom. As a result, such emotions and feelings as inspiration, admiration of the natural beauty, fear of challenges, and temptation are similar about different travelers. From this point, it is reasonable to compare Izumi Kyoka’s “The Holy Man of Mount Koya” and Matsuo Basho’s “The Narrow Road to Oku” to understand which feelings and emotions are typically described in the journey narratives. Thus, it is possible to state that the journey described in Izumi Kyoka’s “The Holy Man of Mount Koya” can remind the elements of the journey presented in Matsuo Basho’s “The Narrow Road to Oku” because the narrators focus on their feelings and examine the world around them carefully while concentrating on their emotions; that is why the discussed narratives are similar in relation to their emotional depth and associated author’s message.

Kyoka’s story can be discussed as the form of the archetypal journey of a man who overcomes a range of challenges, resists temptation, and learns the true nature of things as a result of the controversial journey. From this point, the journey seems to be “unimaginably difficult” (Kyoka 21) while referring to all the challenges met during it. The first strong emotion experienced by the holy man traveling to learn the new knowledge is associated with a field of snakes. The holy man states in the story, “my stomach turned, and I felt as though my hair and all my pores had turned into scales,” and moreover, “I could feel myself breaking out in a cold sweat” (Kyoka 32).

The feeling of fear is vividly described by the author with references to the holy man’s physical feelings to demonstrate the depth of the person’s fear. This moment can remind the reader the fragment from Matsuo Basho’s “The Narrow Road to Oku” when the challenges and strange experiences and situations make the hearts of travelers pound because of the fear of unfamiliar (Basho 370). As a result, the reader can conclude that the journeys are full of risks and challenges, and travelers have to cope with their fears to complete journeys and achieve the goals.

The next important feature is the focus on the environments, nature, and people. During his story, the holy man demonstrates strong emotions while speaking about the frightening wilderness of the environments and the beautiful woman who impressed with her powers. The mysterious nature of the environments, and this woman make the holy man think a lot about his religious views, will, and resistance. On the one hand, the holy man is impressed by the woman and demonstrates curiosity which transforms into temptation and then, even in his thoughts about the true nature of love. On the other hand, the holy man focuses on the woman’s demonic side, which is the source of the temptation (Kyoka 68). As a result, the holy man experiences the struggle of feelings and emotions while balancing between the dark and white sides of his nature. This dilemma makes the holy man see and discuss the environments and the woman both positively and negatively because of the controversial nature of the experience.

In spite of the fact that the emotions and feelings demonstrated by the narrator in “The Narrow Road to Oku” are mostly positive, it is possible to compare the narrators’ emotions and visions because both the men need to find the balance between their strong positive and negative emotions which are the challenge typical for the described journeys. The strongest emotion demonstrated by the narrator in “The Narrow Road to Oku” is the admiration of natural beauty. The narrator states, “No matter how often it has been said, it is none the less true that Matsushima is the most beautiful place in Japan, in no way inferior to T’ung-thing of the Western Lake in China” (Basho 367). The environments are not so dangerous as the lands observed by the holy man, but both the men feel strong emotions while deciding about their next step in the journey. Furthermore, the narrator in “The Narrow Road to Oku” “experienced a feeling of strange pleasure” while traveling, and this feeling can be associated with the holy man’s emotions because the admiration of the journey and pleasure are closely connected with the fear of unfamiliar which cannot be avoided in the situation of traveling (Basho 368). In this case, the feelings and emotions expressed by the narrators in two stories are rather parallel.

Izumi Kyoka’s “The Holy Man of Mount Koya” and Matsuo Basho’s “The Narrow Road to Oku” are the examples of the travel narratives which represent the authors’ experiences and feelings associated with their journeys and finding the new knowledge. Even though the discussed narratives are different about the tone and manner of writing, the authors pay much attention to describing such important feelings as the admiration, fear, and temptation to represent the complex nature of the journey or traveling experience.

Works Cited

Basho, Matsuo. “The Narrow Road to Oku”. Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Ed. Donald Keene. USA: Grove Press, 1955. 363-373. Print.

Kyoka, Izumi. “The Holy Man of Mount Koya”. Japanese Gothic Tales. Ed. Charles Shiro Inouye. USA: University of Hawaii, 1996. 21-72. Print.

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IvyPanda. "“The Holy Man of Mount Koya” and The Narrow Road to Oku” Compare Emotions in Journey Narratives." May 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-holy-man-of-mount-koya-and-the-narrow-road-to-oku-compare-emotions-in-journey-narratives/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "“The Holy Man of Mount Koya” and The Narrow Road to Oku” Compare Emotions in Journey Narratives." May 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-holy-man-of-mount-koya-and-the-narrow-road-to-oku-compare-emotions-in-journey-narratives/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '“The Holy Man of Mount Koya” and The Narrow Road to Oku” Compare Emotions in Journey Narratives'. 18 May.

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