Diary of monk Kawaguchi, 1st Japanese visitor to Tibet, found

Kyodo, December 24, 2004

Tokyo, Japan -- A diary of Ekai Kawaguchi (1866-1945), a monk who in 1900 became the first Japanese visitor to Tibet and left a travelogue in English, has been found at the home of his niece Mie Miyata in Tokyo.

Ekai, in his travelogue, did not disclose where exactly he crossed the border and his route to Tibet over the Himalayans has remained unknown.

With the diary containing geographical information, "it could lead to unraveling of the route and has thus a great significance for Himalayan and Tibetan studies," said Naoji Okuyama, a professor at Koyasan University.

The diary has 66 pages and records his activities from March 1900 when he was in Nepal until the end of December the same year when he reached Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

Scholars are currently figuring out what was written, which they say includes an episode of a woman he secretly admired in Nepal.

Ekai, a Zen Buddhist monk, traveled alone to Tibet seeking original Sanskrit and Tibetan translation of Buddhist texts. His travelogue "Chibetto Ryokoki" was published in 1904. Its English version titled "Records of a Tibetan Journey" was published in London in 1909.

He later left monkhood.