Body and Soul: A rich life of love and death


Jakucho Setouchi

Jakucho Setouchi: Buddhist Priest Wrote of Sex and Love Before Death

A 106-year-old Buddhist priest whose favourite subject was sex and love has died in Japan.

Jakucho Setouchi wrote 32 children’s books and 11 adult books, including a “love story” called When You Suffer from Men.

He won the Japan Book Award for his first novel in 2015.

The content of the books is extremely sensitive in many countries – particularly in China, which maintains strict media censorship and forbade Setouchi’s publication in China.

Beijing, however, did not dispute his win, and Japan respected Chinese permission to display his books at libraries and galleries.

His main work in the children’s genre was an adaptation of The Voice of Life, which explains how the Buddha came to realise the true nature of life – as “a web of our experiences from which we learn love, death and a creator”.

Setouchi also explored love in When You Suffer from Men.

He finished the novel in 2005 – but it did not appear in China until 2013 when it was published there under the title The Partner Who Could Never Be Loved.

It was read by many thousands of people in the country’s largest online bookstore and the age of Setouchi, and its central message of love and loss, was widely praised.

His first novel was The Unicorn of Uno – a fictionalised version of an encounter with a buffalo.

Setouchi was born in March 1913 and practised the venerable Handan-hime Buddhism.

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