Written sometime between 1330 and 1332, the Essays in Idleness, with their timeless relevance and charm, hardly mirror the turbulent times in which they were born. Despite the struggle between the Emperor Go-Daigo and the usurping Hojo family which rocked Japan during these years, the Buddhist priest Kenko found himself 'with nothing better to do, jotting down at random whatever nonsensical thoughts have entered my head'. The resulting essays, none of them more than a few pages in length and some consisting of but two or three sentences, treat a great variety of subjects in a congenial, anecdotal style. Kenko clung to tradition, Buddhism, and the pleasures of solitude, and the themes he treats are all suffused with an unspoken acceptance of Buddhist beliefs. Above all, Kenko gives voice to a distinctively Japanese aesthetic principle: that beauty is bound to perishability.