He became an important though minor poet of his day, and at the age of fifty, withdrew from the world to become a tonsured monk. Today he is remembered for his wise and witty aphorisms, ' Essays in Idleness'.Meredith Mc Kinney, who has also translated Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book for Penguin Classics, is a translator of both contemporary and classical Japanese literature.Meredith Mc Kinney's excellent new translation also includes notes and an introduction exploring the spiritual and historical background of the works.
It is part of the curriculum in modern Japanese high schools, as well as internationally in some International Baccalaureate Diploma Program schools.
"Tsure- zure" means ennui, the state of being bored and having nothing in particular to do, of being quietly lost in thought.
However some interpretations say it means “idleness” or “leisure.” “Gusa” is a compound variant of the Japanese word “kusa” (grass).
Kenko was born just two years after the second Mongol Invasion.
One year after his birth, Hojo Tokimune, regent of the Kamakura shogunate, known for defending Japan against the Mongol forces, died.