Meet Jakucho Setouchi, your new heroine. According to Reuters, the 85-year-old Buddhist nun with the shaved head is famous for her romance novels, self-help books and her modern Japanese translation of The Tale Of Genji, a well-known Casanova tale written 1000 years ago. Genji is a serial seducer, a prince whose "looks, intelligence, exquisite taste and talent" have led some literary experts to call him the "perfect" hero. Setouchi's version of his story (in English, the tale runs around 2000 pages) has sold three million copies. Setouchi tackled the translation about fifteen years ago. "I was 70 years old when I took [it] on," she says. "The publishers even asked me if I would live long enough to finish it! It was a gamble."
As for the epic seductions Genji pulls off, Setouchi says: "Some silly people say they don't want their children to read it because of the content, but there's no actual sex in Genji. Even primary school students can read it." Naughty nun! And Setouchi admits she might have taken her vows (at the age of 50) too soon: "I'm glad I did it, but it was a little bit early," she says. "It was a bit of a waste. I had no idea I was going to live so long. I thought it would be 25 years at most."
The craziest part is that Setouchi, who's won many literary prizes and often travels for speaking engagements — writes in long hand. With a fountain pen! "I'd like to learn to use a computer, but I just don't have the time," she claims. But then, she's always lived an interesting life: In her mid-twenties, she left her husband and child after starting an affair with a younger man. Later she had an affair with a married man. "Usually people who do bad things make good writers," she said in a February lecture at a Kyoto hotel. "I did a lot of bad things, which is why my novels are interesting."