Journey to the West

Happy New Year! Or in Chinese, 新年好!(Xinian hao)

Over our holiday break, we had to read excerpts of a story called Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. Based off of the true story of the monk Xuanzang, who traveled to India in search of Buddhist texts. He returned to China with over 600 documents that influenced the Buddhist religion in China. The monk lived from 602-664, and this story was written almost 900 years after, in the 1500s. The written story has been embellished and is partly fictional. Since being written, the story has been remade into plays, movies, video games, and more.


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Monkey video game

The story we read is about a Monkey (monkey in Chinese is 猴, pronounced hou) that becomes immortal and causes so much trouble because of his greed that the gods of heaven have to imprison him under a mountain for 500 years. Meanwhile, the monk is born and he meets the emperor, who tells him that he will have luck on his journey to the west. The monk begins his travels, and when he comes across the mountain (山, pronounced shang) that the monkey is under. The monkey asks the monk if he can come along and promises to protect the monk throughout his travels. The monk agrees to let him come along, but the monkey has to convert to Buddhism and help the monk find the needed scriptures. The monk tells the monkey that he has to has respect for other people’s lives, and because the monkey is so greedy and spoiled he runs away and pouts. Before the monkey comes back, the monk is given an outfit from the gods that will help control the monkey. When the monkey comes back, the monk tricks the monkey into putting the hat on, and whenever the monk recites a certain spell the hat tightens around the monkey’s head. The journey continues in this way and 15 years later the monk returns to the emperor with his Buddhist findings.

What do you think is the most effective way to get the story across?

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Illustration of the monkey and monk’s travels

Image result for monkey from journey to the west

Stage production of Monkey


2 thoughts on “Journey to the West

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