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Guided Reading Essay: Ungo Zenji

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Read the story of Ungo Zenji then answer then complete the following essay assignment under the Quiz section. Vendettas, honor, loyalty, murder and betrayal, key components of a classic and yet little known Japanese literary genre known as jitsuroku.  The word “jitsuroku” translates as “memoir” and was a genre of literature in feudal Japan that were generally exaggerated stories of political scandals and revenge.  These stories were largely based on true events, however through oral transmission and embellishment, these stories would soon intertwine fact and fiction together to the point that trying to decipher between the two would become quite difficult.  The result is that epic tales of revenge would soon become transmitted and popularized throughout Feudal Japan. The story of the Ungo Zenji is one such story. The second installment of the Jitsuroku series, Ungo Zenji is the story of a young servant by the name of Heishiro wronged at the hands of the powerful warlord Date Masamune.  Fueled by revenge, Heishiro embarks on a grueling spiritual journey to try to surpass Date Masamune the only way one of the lower class could; by becoming the most powerful priest in all of Japan. A now classic epic, this work is a republishing of Asatori Miyamori and Kido Okamoto's version of Ungo Zenji from their out of print and public domain work Tales of the Samurai and Lady Hosokawa.   Each Jitsuroku in this series contains a republishing of a single short story from the public domain that has been updated and edited to correct some of the older terminology from their original versions.  These stories also include a common 'Foreword' discussing the Jitsuroku genre and an individualized 'Afterword' to bring historical context to each tale.

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