Priest and His Disciples (Shaw Translation)
By: Hyakuzō Kurata (1891-1943)
At the age of twenty-six (at the height of the Great War in Europe), the religious pilgrim and maverick Kurata Hyakuzō wrote a profoundly philosophical play called "The Priest & His Disciples" ("Shukke to sono deshi"). This stage play is based on the life and teachings of the 13th century Buddhist priest Shinran (1173-1263) and quickly became immensely popular. Shinran, the historical founder of the True Pure Land School of Buddhism (Jōdo Shinshū), encounters the poor family of Hino Saemon and his wife Okane, and converses with them about how to live in circumstances of change and turmoil and hardship. Most of the ideas represented as Shinran's are really Kurata's own philosophies, an amalgam of Eastern and Western ideas adapted by his own iconoclastic spirit to the tumultuous times of early twentieth-century Japan.