Night Boat

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More About This Title Night Boat


Set under the skies of 18th-century Japan, a tale of fear, devotion, and the power of the spirit against all odds

My childhood name was Iwajiro, and I was eight years old when I first entered at the gates of hell . . .

One night in 18th-century Japan, at the hour of the Ox, a young boy named Iwajiro sits in a state of pure concentration. At the foot of Mount Fuji, behind screen walls and amidst curls of incense smoke, Iwajiro chants the Tenjin Sutra, an act of devotion learned from his beloved mother. On the side of the same mountain, 20 years on, he will sit in perfect stillness as the summit erupts, spitting fire and molten rock onto the land around him. This is not the first time he has seen hell. This man will become Hakuin, one of the greatest teachers in the history of Zen. His quest for truth will call on him to defy his father, to face death, to find love and to lose it. He will ask, what is the sound of one hand clapping? And he will master his greatest fear. This fictionalized account of a legendary Zen master is the story of a tremendous life.


Alan Spence is an award-winning Scottish poet, playwright, novelist, and short story writer. He is the author of The Pure Land, and his awards include the Glenfiddich Award, The People's Prize, Macallan Short Story Prize and McVitie Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year. He founded Edinburgh's WORD Festival and was its artistic director for 12 years, and he now co-runs a meditation center.