Ryokan devoted his life to the study of Zen. One day he heard that his nephew,
despite the admonitions of relatives, was spending his money on a courtesan.
Inasmuch as the nephew had taken Ryokan’s place in managing the family estate
and the property was in danger of being dissipated, the relatives asked Ryokan
to do something about it.
Ryokan had to travel a long way to visit his nephew, whom he had not seen for
many years. The nephew seemed pleased to meet his uncle again and invited him to
All night Ryokan sat in meditation. As he was departing in the morning he said
to the young man: “I must be getting old, my hand shakes so. Will you help me
tie the string of my straw sandal?”
The nephew helped him willingly. “‘Thank you,” finished Ryokan, “you see, a man
becomes older and feebler day by day. Take good care of yourself.”
left, never mentioning a word about the courtesan or the complaints of the
relatives. But, from that morning on, the dissipations of the nephew ended.