‘Rules of the Poet Wanderer’ from Oliver Statler’s ‘Japanese Inn’

-The American scholar Oliver Statler (1915-2002) still stands at the center of Western studies on the Shikoku pilgrimage. More to come in the future post…

“Be prepared to die at anytime. Don’t think of tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Life is vanity.

Put away carnal desires, as well as hope for honors and luxuries.

Observe the five commandments of Buddhism, which forbid killing, stealing, fornication, drinking, and idle talk. (However, there can be exceptions for drink and a little idle talk.)

Give everything down to the skin if you meet with highwaymen. Be ready to give up your life if they want to kill you, and never fight back.

Don’t higgle over ferry and inn charges, and tip as one should.

Give alms to beggars and medicine to the sick when you meet them on the way.

Never refuse a request for calligraphy, but never offer it unless requested. Plagiarism is taboo.

Never ride a horse or kago, except in places where it is very difficult to go by foot.

And when you feel inclined to break these rules, stop your journey and go home.”


Citation: Statler, Oliver. Japanese Inn. New York: Random House, 1961. Print.

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