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In Praise of Shadows

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An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings. The book also includes descriptions of laquerware under candlelight, and women in the darkness of the house of pleasure.

56 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1933

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About the author

Jun'ichirō Tanizaki

524 books1,692 followers
Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎) was a Japanese author, and one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki.

Some of his works present a rather shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions; others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century Japanese society.

Frequently his stories are narrated in the context of a search for cultural identity in which constructions of "the West" and "Japanese tradition" are juxtaposed. The results are complex, ironic, demure, and provocative.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,043 reviews
Profile Image for Florencia.
649 reviews1,913 followers
July 24, 2019
The preference for a pensive luster to a shallow brilliance.


My quiet, soothingly minimalist room seems of no consequence when juxtaposed with the unearthly beauty that Jun'ichirō Tanizaki described in this splendid essay on aesthetics.

A shōji. Lightning. Electric fans. The right heating system. Architecture. Food.
Every detail to avoid the disruption of harmony in a Japanese room.
An almost imperceptible line between an extremely refine taste and the subtlety of irony.

We delight in the mere sight of the delicate glow of fading rays clinging to the surface of a dusky wall, there to live out what little life remains to them. We never tire of the sight, for to us this pale glow and these dim shadows far surpass any ornament. (9)


Inside this book, there is a room that seems enraptured by the sobriety of the different shades of black.
So much space beholding the magnificence of a dim light on a particular spot, barely illuminating the serene twilight the walls seem to be made of.

Could this book be applied to people? It shouldn't. But that is subject to one's personality. You could be the reserved, darkened room. Except when writing. And that would be fine.

Nevertheless, a book on beauty has its share of ugliness; people's skin and supposed degrees of purity.

Above all, this is an essay that exalts the enigmatic candlelight.
The particular beauty of a candle emanating a delicate glow that embellish a silent room. A most idyllic view under its mystical light.

Nothing superfluous. Nothing pretentious. Nothing loud but the silence. A universe in one's thoughts. The encounter with oneself under the tenuous radiance of a candle, evoking a somber night and the bright moon someone is gazing at.

Tanizaki observes. Tanizaki fights. Tanizaki pouts! Tanizaki misses. Tanizaki regrets.
The sound of the rain playing gently with the dusky light of a candle.

The mind wanders.

Nov 21, 2015
* Also on my blog.
** Photo credit: Japanese room / via bluebu.us
Tatami room / via Kyoto Contemplation
Candle / via Free images
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,118 reviews3,966 followers
July 24, 2022
We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates… Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.

This is a fascinating, surprising, occasionally amusing essay that lauds and explains traditional Japanese aesthetics relating to light and its absence. It’s applied to architecture, music, writing, the costumes of theatres and temples, women, and food. It contrasts Japanese principles with the western ones that were increasingly influential in 1933, and asks if progress is necessarily good, particularly when it’s imported from another culture.

Image: “The beauty of a Japanese room depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows” - that’s why there are so few ornaments. (Source.)

Dark and Light, East and West

How different everything would be if we in the Orient had developed our own science.

It’s not just a matter of taste. Tanizaki sees the differences arising from the landscape and the people themselves, giving rise to different paths of development - a cultural butterfly effect.

He explains how the fountain pen, "an insignificant little piece of writing equipment", was invented in the west, so there is no brush, no gentle seeping of black ink, and different paper is required. It makes writing a viscerally different experience, and its adoption in the east triggered suggestions to replace characters with Roman script, and will inevitably influence the type of literature Japanese writers write.

Image: You can now buy hybrid cartridge-filled brush pens. (Source.)

But I was challenged by the conclusions of this self-described Oriental that the fundamental reason for Japanese preference for dark and shadows was skin colour: how light plays on Japanese skin which, though pale, is "tainted by a slight cloudiness" akin to dirt in a clear pool. He even empathises with “pure-blooded whites” upset by the sight of those with other skin tones!

Protect Difference or Accept Hegemony?

In a broader sense, this is a topical question, nearly a century after it was written. How do we balance embracing the richness of other cultures with maintaining the essence of their distinct identities?

Tanizaki observes fundamental differences between east and west, and he doesn’t want to erase them, though he accepts some of the conveniences that come from afar.

I remember travelling in China in 2008, being struck by how different the fashion and cosmetic ads were compared with my previous trip in 1992. They all used the palest, least Chinese-looking models - apart from those that used western models. It’s one thing desiring western products, but wanting to look like a different race is tragic - except for the burgeoning cosmetic surgery sector, with specialisms in eye-surgery, skin whitening, and even leg lengthening.

Darkness to Enhance Other Senses

Our cooking depends upon shadows and is inseparable from darkness.

I once went to a restaurant whose USP was eating in total darkness. It was an experience like no other, and flavours were surprisingly hard to identify. I relished the novelty, and the enhanced sensations of shape and texture. That’s not a viable option day to day, but eating in more normal low-light, and without the distractions of cluttered walls, and background music certainly engages one more in the food itself. Conversely, too many dinners in front of the TV, where you barely notice what you eat, let alone how much, surely contribute to the obesity problem.

Tanizaki is at his most lyrical when writing about aged lacquerware in traditional low light (see quotes below):
Only in dim half-light is the true beauty of Japanese lacquerware revealed.

Image: Ōnishi Isao, a traditional lacquerware craftsman works by candlelight. (Source.)


In places, this reads almost like poetry, but is by a novelist who was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964: Jun'ichirō Tanizaki.

• “The Japanese toilet is truly a place of spiritual repose. It always stands apart from the main building, at the end of a corridor, in a grove fragrant with leaves and moss. No words can describe that sensation as one sits in the dim light, basking in the faint glow reflected from the shoji, lost in meditation or gazing out at the garden.”

• “Japanese paper gives us a certain feeling of warmth, of calm and repose… Western paper turns away the light, while our paper seems to take it in, to envelop it gently, like the soft surface of a first snowfall. It gives off no sound when it is crumpled or folded, it is quiet and pliant to the touch as the leaf of a tree.”

• “We find it hard to be really at home with things that shine and glitter. The Westerner uses silver and steel and nickel tableware, and polishes it to a fine brilliance… We begin to enjoy it only when the luster has worn off, when it has begun to take on a dark, smoky patina.

• “We do not dislike everything that shines, but we do prefer a pensive luster to a shallow brilliance, a murky light that, whether in a stone or an artifact, bespeaks a sheen of antiquity.”

• “Darkness is an indispensable element of the beauty of lacquerware… [Traditional lacquerware] was finished in black, brown, or red, colors built up of countless layers of darkness, the inevitable product of the darkness in which life was lived.”

• “In the Gothic cathedral of the West, the roof is thrust up and up so as to place its pinnacle as high in the heavens as possible… In the temples of Japan, on the other hand, a roof of heavy tiles is first laid out, and in the deep, spacious shadows created by the eaves the rest of the structure is built.”

• “Japanese music is above all a music of reticence, of atmosphere… In conversation, too, we prefer the soft voice, the understatement. Most important of all are the pauses.”

• “Light is used not for reading and writing or sewing but for dispelling the shadows in the farthest corners, and this runs against the basic idea of the Japanese room.”

• “So dilute is the light there that no matter what the season, on fair days or cloudy, morning, midday, or evening, the pale, white glow scarcely varies. And the shadows at the interstices of the ribs seem strangely immobile, as if dust collected in the corners had become a part of the paper itself. I blink in uncertainty at this dreamlike luminescence, feeling as though some misty film were blunting my vision.”

• “The color of that ‘darkness seen by candlelight.’ It was different in quality from darkness on the road at night. It was a repletion, a pregnancy of tiny particles like fine ashes, each particle luminous as a rainbow.”


After reading this, I discovered a different edition labels 16 sections. I couldn’t actually work out where all the section breaks would go, so I’m glad I read it as one continuous piece. All the themes are covered, but not solely in this sequence:

1. On construction
2. The toilet aesthetic
3. A different course
4. A novelist's daydreams
5. On paper, tin and dirt
6. Candlelight and lacquerware
7. Bowls of broth
8. The enigma of shadows
9. An uncanny silence
10. Reflections in darkness
11. Shadows on the stage
12. The woman of old
13. Beauty in the dark
14. A world of shadows
15. A cool breeze in total darkness
16. Final grumblings

See also

For a collection of mini reviews of stories about people and their shadows in European tales, see my review of Hans Christian Andersen's The Shadow, HERE.
Profile Image for Adina ( On hiatus until next week) .
827 reviews3,232 followers
May 19, 2023
Audiobook narrated by David Rintoul

As the blurb says: "An essay on aesthetics by the Japanese novelist, this book explores architecture, jade, food, and even toilets, combining an acute sense of the use of space in buildings." I cannot believe poetry can be made from describing toilet aesthetics but Tanizaki succeeded. 10 minutes of narration about toilets and I was enthralled. Besides toilets there is a comparison between the Japanese style and the Western style in terms of aesthetics which was fascinating. Regarding the title, the author advocates for less light, more darkness in order to soften the atmosphere, preserve a bit of mystery etc. Also ,toilets look better in the darkness, they appear cleaner :)).

I bought the The Makioka Sisters Today because I like this author so much.
Profile Image for Dolors.
527 reviews2,210 followers
July 23, 2015
A delightful essay on the ethos of Japanese aesthetics, its “frigid elegance” and its ancestral raison d’etre. Thanks to Tanizaki’s unadorned yet carefully layered prose I start to grasp the importance of natural materials like worn-out wood or paper lanterns, or the preference for dim lighted rooms and tarnished tableware that lack the aggressive glitter of metal or the aseptic whiteness of tiles of modern houses. It’s in the musky darkness that shrouds the bare room, devoid of artificial ornaments, that the mystery leads to peace and rest.
Never had this annoyingly bright screen and the artificial bulb that lights up the sultry room where I am typing these words seemed more unappealing or devoid of grace to me.
I yearn for the ink and the sturdy paper and the pattern of shadows playing on the Shoji and the warmth of “darkness seen by candlelight”.
May 22, 2017
Το εγκώμιο της σκιάς είναι ένα μικρό,περιεκτικό και ουσιώδες βιβλίο που θα μπορούσε να χαρακτηριστεί και ως εγχειρίδιο αισθητικής στα παραδοσιακά ιδεώδη της Ανατολής.

Ενα δοκίμιο απόρριψης κάθε επιφανειακής δυτικοποιημένης εξέλιξης.

Μια καλογραμμένη έκθεση πάνω σε ανατολίτικο μετάξι με σκούρες αποχρώσεις ιδεών και όνειρα μέσα σε ομίχλες σκιών,σκοτάδι,ασάφεια,πα��ωχημένη αισθητική αντίληψη και γοητεία νηφαλιότητας.

Η σκουριά και η μουντή παλαιωμένη πατίνα του χρόνου,παράλληλα με το αμυδρό και το μισοϊδωμένο της σκιάς αποτελεί τη φύση της ομορφιάς.

Το εγκώμιο της σκιάς δεν είναι σε καμία περίπτωση μία αντιπαράθεση ανάμεσα στην παράδοση και την αναπότρεπτη εξέλιξη του πολιτισμού.
Αντιθέτως δημιουργεί μια συναισθηματική γαλήνη μέσα απο την αποδοχή με λογική και στωικότητα.

Πολύ σεμνά και τρυφερά αναπολεί,νοσταλγεί και διαπιστώνει τη θλιβερή απώλεια της μαγείας της σκιάς,της νηφαλιότητας και της γαλήνης που χάνονται μπροστά σε ότι κραυγαλέα γυαλίζει και επιδεικνύεται.

Απο αυτή τη μαγεία της παλαιότητας γεννιούνται όλα τα θαύματα των υλικών πλασμάτων,των φαντασμάτων και των ξωτικών του σκοταδιού.

Διαβάζοντας το παρασύρεσαι και αφήνεσαι σε μια αισθητική ανακούφιση. Μια παράξενη χαλάρωση που απλώνεται στο σώμα και το πνεύμα.

Βρίσκεσαι μέσα σε ένα βουδιστικό μοναστήρι του 14ου αιώνα και βιώνεις πνευματική και αισθητική αυτοσυγκέντρωση και φιλοσοφικού νοήματος ζέν.

Οι αξίες πηγάζουν απο την εσωτερικότητα και την υπαινικτική μαγεία του σκοταδιού.
Όπου εισχωρεί το φως ξεθωριάζει η γοητεία και οι γρήγοροι ρυθμοί εξέλιξης εξοντώνουν τη μοναχικότητα,το γούστο,τη λεπτότητα και την καλαίσθητη θλίψη.

Η ομορφιά είναι ψυχρή,σκοτεινή και διακριτική!

Καλή ανάγνωση!
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Praj.
314 reviews797 followers
August 12, 2016
“We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates.”

** Kage-e illustrations - Japanese shadow art from the Edo period (woodblock print)

Have you ever stomped on your shadow, trying to hold its torso with your feet? The subtle chase between you and the devious shadow; toughening with every stomp on the dried grey asphalt while queries of whether you have lost your marbles looming in the humid air. Deer prancing, jumping rabbits, sluggish turtles and eagles soaring to the sky on a sunlit wall; an ecstatic scuffle of shadow -animals cheers up the dull wall. Emulate the avian hand creation in front of a mirror and observe the beauty of an eagle being dissected into shreds by an illuminated reality, the nimble fingers crumbling in a preposterous sway that had earlier been proudly celebrating the mystified flight of an eagle. The beauty of the shadow crumbles into the clarity of a luminous mirror, leaving the tangible fantasy of the hand-made animals to die away in sharpness of the vision. The softness of an object is highlighted through the shades of darkness; its beauty enhanced through an array of radiated nuances, the shadows cultivating a life of their own. For as long as my grandfather was alive, one of the bathrooms in our house had an Indian toilet installation that remained intact through several rounds of renovations. As much as I despised the functioning of an Indian toilet, my grandfather loathed its English counterpart. A man who strictly emphasized on my cursive calligraphy, my domestic and public etiquette, the immaculate English pronunciations and everything that spelled the norms of a Western cultural demeanor, was never able to let go his toilet preferences. That was the ultimate defining line that demarcated me and my grandfather standing apart in two different worlds. The novelist Natsume Soseki counted his morning trips to the toilet a great pleasure, “a physiological delight” he called it. And surely there could be no better place to savor this pleasure than a Japanese toilet where, surrounded by tranquil walls and finely grained wood, one looks out upon blue skies and green leaves. Through the words of Soseki, similar quandary when expressed by Tanizaki in his artistic essay brought a flurry of nostalgic shards piercing my psyche comprehending my grandfather’s quirks as the establishment of an Indian toilet was the only piece of Indian aesthetic remaining in the Western architectural jungle that adorned the house making it the sole rescue to his “old" world from the chaos of modernization. The solitude of a bathroom/toilet is where great literary ideas are born, culturally significant haikus are written, so says Tanizaki and I couldn't agree more. A toilet is indeed the most important element of an architectural mores. The shadows of the past intensify as we age, the dormant beauty exploding actively, flooding the superciliousness of time with melancholic meekness.

“The quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty’s ends. And so it has come to be that the beauty of a Japanese room depends on a variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows – it has nothing else..."

It becomes evident from titular embellishments the thematic conception of this book revolving around the significance of ‘shadows’ and ‘shades of darkness’ in Japanese cultural aesthetics. For nearly 250 years, although not entirely secluded under the Sakoku policy, Japan still remained culturally aloof from the world until the late 1868. The entry of strange foreign world bringing in their aspect of cultural modernization further propelled the Japanese cultural to staunchly hold on to its ethnicity, culturally and philosophy. Even though honoured Japanese authors like Natsume Soseki , Junichiro Tanizaki, et.al were born decades later in a more liberated Japanese environment, their literature prospered through the teachings of Zen and conventional Japanese literary and spiritual philosophies. Moreover , with the burgeoning aspects of westernization in the early 20th century , Japanese literature orated the quandary of many the Japanese population that were stuck between the modern and orthodox civilization , searching a stable ground for co-habitation with the changing times and clutching on to the “allies of inhabitation” exhibiting a sense of belonging , however temporary. Tanizaki dilemma of surviving the bane of modernization while hanging onto the boons of the old Japanese edifying era is articulated through his annoyance of the necessitated usage of heavy electric lightings. The peculiarity of shadows through which the beauty of an object excels seems to be diminishing with the onset of modern times. Shadows form an integral part of Japanese traditional aesthetic and in the subsequent cyclic philosophy of concealment and revelation through a game of shadows the crucial beauty becomes highly seductive. Tanizaki applies this theoretical perception while arguing the essence of shadow through exemplary significance of electric heaters, architecture, theater, food, ceramics and lacquerware, literature, radio, music systems, the intricacies of Japanese way of life in accordance to its populace and even to the extent of comparing a fountain pen to the elegance of a Japanese calligraphy brush swaying gracefully on a boisterous, coarse paper.

The minimalist architectural layout of a Japanese room prevailing in the mysterious game of shadows; competing with the delicately illuminated rooms and alcove with the sober patterned colours adorning the ashen walls; the curious sun peeking through the raw texture of the shōji filling the old floor lamps with reminiscent shadows. The Japanese architectural aesthetic is greatly based on the wabi-sabi philosophical foundation of impermanence and imperfection. The simultaneous cyclic ‘light and shadow’ spirituality of ‘wabi-sabi’ conveys the universal truth of the cyclical phenomenon of ‘day and night’, asserting the transient nature of the universe. The wooden pillar withered through the tantrums of changing seasons, ageing into oblivion equates to a wrinkled face, the shadows dwelling the wrinkly creases, augmenting the beauty of the face that has weathered the rambunctious life exemplifying that nothing is permanent, not even the tautness of a youthful skin and yet in those imperfect shadows of ugly deep wrinkles lay an unconventional beauty of perfection. The philosophical notion of the universe being created from nothingness and in due course all living organism will disintegrate into the darkness of oblivion, bestows the world of shadows with a spirituality of aesthetic ideals where the humility of imperfection and reticence of impermanence expunge the haughtiness of illuminated perfection. The impassive ceramic tiles that adorn the Western components of interior designs will never be able to contest with the mystifying magnificence of the withered wooden interiors

Tanizaki reveals his predicament over the use glass doors instead of the traditional shōji while constructing a house, the eventual costs for the interior designing rising above the limits of monetary assumption because of Tanizaki’s stubbornness of installing both the shōji and the glass door for valid reasons of illumination and security. The need for modern element surged from the dire circumstances of an evolving world. Tanizaki makes a valid case when he asserts how in order to survive in this transforming cultural avenues, the conventional cultural norms could be well followed if one lived in solitude away from the nitty-gritty of the city life. This adherence was certainly not possible to those residing and working in the cities.

Tanizaki elaborates an interesting debating subject dissecting the fundamentals of Japanese theater, distinguishing the reputable model and modus operandi of Noh and Kabuki revolving around the world of shadows depicting the mysterious aura that surrounds the theatrical performances. The silhouette of the Noh mask resting on the curious neck of the stage actor performing the play brings an outwardly mystery to the person behind the mask. It is as if you desire to remove the mask off the face exposing the vulnerabilities and apprehension of the actor contrasting that of its stage character. And, yet you fear that the rigid revelation would destroy the beauty that lingers for hours after the end of the final act. So you decide to sit back and take utter delight in the immaculate performance , the beauty of the Noh enhanced amid the shadows of the mask, its mystery deepening in the crimson flush swept across the underneath skin. Tanizaki’s affinity toward Noh, becomes evident with his exasperation for the heavily powered Kabuki faces which thrive in a world of sham shrouded with perverted beauty, an art which Tanizaki proclaims to have walked the path from subtle eroticism to overt vulgarity with its distinct charm misplaced in the array of gaudy floodlights. The apprehensions of the Noh theatre installing high voltage lightings for the viewing comfort in large auditorium , brings dismay to Tanizaki about the worrisome future of Noh losing its true beauty in such extravagant set up. The possibility of the diminishing aesthetical darkness that had once augmented the veiled beauty of Noh into a mystical world of realistic fantasy is feared with raging odds of the regal art being another commonplace theatrical facade. The spirit of nationalism takes centre stage as this promising composition connotes the significance of shadows deeply embedded in the Japanese cultural heritage. Tanizaki has his comical moments when he equates the affinity of the Japanese philosophies towards darkness to the inheritances of dark black hair of the populace. Another humorous anecdote comes up in the afterword penned by Thomas J. Harper. Conversely, the detailed description of the fair skin-tone becomes ambiguous when looked through a two-sided mirror reflecting images of pure aesthetics and subtle racism, each muddling within the shadows of the reader’s sanity. Yet, analogous to the age-old Japanese beautification symbol of ‘blackening the teeth’, the dialogue of translucent skin-tone varying underneath the perfect amalgamation of shadows and illumination to achieve an unadulterated fairness could be perceived under the lens of a purist aesthetic. But, still this aspect goes through scrutiny of a civilized lens of judgments.

Eloquently, Tanizaki elucidates the tantalizing aura of Japanese cuisine asserting the glorious food to be a form of meditation. He refers to Soseki’s literary marvel Kusamakura to elaborate on the splendour of Soseki’s favourite tea sweet – Yōkan . The sweetened jelly concocted from red bean paste is rather splendid with its semi-translucent structure; the opaque tinted shadows that hover on this confectionery bring a pleasurable aura to its velvety consistency. Similar to Soseki’s attraction to the gem-like Yōkan , Tanizaki dismisses the cream filled chocolates (Western product) preferring the shadowy weightiness of the yokan. The pondering Japanese palate finds luxuries in the delicate flavours of the regional cuisine. The perfectly moulded sake soaked vinegar laced rice with a subtle hint of salt beneath a thinly sliced salmon , its aromatic oil spreading in the shadows of a wrapped persimmon leaf. Once again, through the enticing bite-sized sushi embraced in the green blanket of the persimmon leaf, Tanizaki elaborates the quintessence of minimalism and simplicity rooted in Japanese traditions seeping through its culinary arts. Similar to the simplistic country life, the taste of the food is amplified by minimalist arrangement of ingredient deriving the maximum pleasure through its consumption and not being ruined by overcrowding of flavours, like the boisterous crowded city life.

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.”

The lost radiance of the moon in a heavily lit ambiance now shines fiercely through the dimness of the clouds on a silent night. The beauty of the moon is at its best at the darkest of the night.

Darkness is an indispensable element of the beauty of lacquerware. The golden tint engraved into the creative depths of the lacquerware radiation its regal opulence through the maze of shadows.

The calligraphy brush elegantly amusing in the black shadows of India Ink disciplines the noisy paper as the fountain pen eagerly look to the embryonic stroke of the character kage(shadows), its gray shades discovering the concealed beauty on the dim walls of Japanese literature , arts and legacy.
Profile Image for howl of minerva.
81 reviews399 followers
January 10, 2017
Sort of a Japanese Grandpa Simpson. Kids these days, no respect. Art these days, total crap. Food these days, inedible. It's all go go go. It's all electric lights and gramophones. What happened to sitting in the dark, poking yourself in the eye with a stick? Kids are too good for that now. Things were so much better before refrigeration and antibiotics. People used to have time for things, people used to care, people used to have pride. Bla bla bla. Said every generation ever. Bonus star for brevity.
Profile Image for Susan Budd.
Author 7 books212 followers
July 14, 2017
In this little book, Junichiro Tanizaki helped me understand why I ~ a thorough Westerner, NYC born & bred ~ am so drawn to the Japanese aesthetic. He begins his essay with an example I can totally relate to. Many Japanese people take pains to hide electrical wires because they don’t want to spoil the beauty of the traditional decor. I so get this. I wish I could hide all my electrical wires too. There are so many of them, not to mention all the LED lights from appliances that once were luxuries and now are necessities. But don’t think for a moment that I could part with my computer or my coffee maker! I love them. I just wish they didn’t jar so much with the decor.

Tanizaki doesn’t reject Western conveniences either. He just wishes they could have been designed with a Japanese sensibility in mind. He thinks that if these same conveniences had been developed by the Japanese, they would be more in harmony with Japanese taste. But instead of the Japanese making these innovations on their own in their own time, Japan’s contact with the West at the beginning of the Meiji era led to rapid modernization in the Western style. He thinks that if the Japanese had developed these things, they would be very different from the Western versions.

“The Westerner has been able to move forward in ordered steps, while we have met superior civilization and have had to surrender to it, and we have had to leave a road we have followed for thousands of years. ... If we had been left alone ... we would have gone only in a direction that suited us” (8-9).

In Praise of Shadows is his tribute to the Japanese aesthetic, to the beauty of darkness, to moonlight rather than sunshine, shadow rather than glare, softness rather than neon. His argument is that this aesthetic arose, not from some mysterious “national character,” but from people’s actual way of life.

“The quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty’s ends” (18).

In the course of the essay, Tanizaki writes of lamps, stoves, toilets (yes toilets), pens, paper, glass, lacquerware, ceramics, food, houses, picture alcoves, theater, women, clothing, skin color, and cosmetics. He fondly describes the austere beauty of darkness ~ the dreaminess, the softness, the silence, the mystery, the timelessness.

But it is not only darkness and shadow that the Japanese find beautiful. In fact, it is only because of this appreciation of darkness and shadow that the beauty of light and gold can be experienced. Gold is garish under the glare of harsh lights, but in a dim room it beautifully reflects the little light that is there.

“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty” (30).

The simplicity of traditional Japanese decor appeals to me: the shoji doors, the tatami mats, the alcove housing an old scroll and a single flower in a humble vase. I like the minimalism, the subtlety, the naturalness. And I like the night. It’s slower, quieter, softer than the day.

Would I like it as much if it were the only thing I knew? Maybe not. I might be as eager to experience the new, the bright, and the modern as the Japanese were when first introduced to the Western lifestyle. But the Japanese aesthetic isn’t the one I have always known. I am a child of the West, of the bright lights of Times Square and the clamor of Grand Central Station. Too much yang. Not enough yin. For me, the Japanese aesthetic restores the balance.

In Praise of Shadows is a book about beauty, but there is also a sadness in Tanizaki’s praise of shadows. He despairs that the Japanese aesthetic is dying because the old way of life is passing away. He tells of a moon-viewing ruined by all the electric lights. And he hopes that something of the traditional beauty and richness of the Japanese aesthetic might be saved ~ in literature at least if no where else.

His plea touches my heart. To lose this “world of shadows” is to lose something essential to the human spirit. Light is good, but too much of it is blinding. Sound is good, but too much of it is deafening. Activity is good, but too much of it is exhausting. There must be balance. Without the “world of shadows” the light soon will overwhelm us and leave us longing for the shadows we have unwisely banished.
Profile Image for آبتین گلکار.
Author 49 books1,132 followers
November 5, 2019
کتابی عالی برای علاقه‌مندان به فرهنگ سنتی. نویسنده با نگاهی تیزبینانه نشان می‌دهد که چطور دریافت سنتی ژاپنی‌ها از زیبایی تحت تأثیر الگوهای غربی تغییر می‌کند. در حین خواندن کتاب مدام الگوهای فکری ژاپنی و غربی را با الگوهای خودمان هم مقایسه می‌کنید و به نکاتی درباره‌ی روان‌شناسی جمعی خودمان پی می‌برید که شاید پیش از آن هرگز به آنها توجه نکرده بودید. ترجمه و طراحی کتاب هم حرف ندارد

تکه‌هایی از متن

سال‌ها پیش یک بار در مقاله‌ای که برای مجله‌ی بونگی شونجو نوشتم، خودنویس را با قلم‌مو مقایسه کردم. آن‌جا گفتم که اگر خودنویس را در زمان قدیم احیاناً یک چینی یا ژاپنی اختراع می‌کرد، چه بسا سر آن مو کار می‌گذاشت، نه از این نوک‌های فلزی. برای جوهرش نه از رنگ آبی، که از مرکب مشکی هندی استفاده می‌کرد، و کاری می‌کرد که جوهر از توی مخزن به موهای قلم نشت کند. در این صورت کاغذ فرنگی هم دیگر به کار نمی‌آمد؛ نیاز به کاغذی بالا می‌گرفت شبیه به کاغذ سنتی ژاپنی، نوعی هانشی که البته بتوان آن را به صورت انبوه هم تولید کرد. اگر کاغذ و مرکب و قلم‌مو این مسیر را طی می‌کردند، چه بسا خودنویس و جوهر امروز این قدر محبوب نمی‌شدند، حرف طرفداران خط لاتین این همه شنونده نداشت، تمایل مردم به خط چینی و ژاپنی همچنان برقرار می‌ماند و، مهم‌تر از همه، فلسفه و ادبیات ما این همه مقلد غرب نبود، چه بسا پا به عرصه‌هایی نو و مستقل می‌گذاشت. این مثال نشان می‌دهد که حتی یک ابزار پیش‌پاافتاده‌ی نوشتن هم قادر است تأثیرات گسترده و دامنه‌داری بر فرهنگ ما بگذارد
(ص 26)

در مورد گرامافون و رادیو هم همین طور است. اگر ما این دستگاه‌ها را ابداع می‌کردیم، لابد آن‌ها را به شیوه‌ای طراحی می‌کردیم که ویژگی‌های موسیقی ما را بهتر بروز دهند. موسیقی سنتی ما ذاتاً محجوب است و بیش از هر چیز متکی بر حس و حال. به همین دلیل، وقتی روی صفحه ضبط می‌شود و از بلندگو پخش می‌شود، بیشتر آن حس و حال از دست می‌رود. در فنون گفتاری و هنرهای روایی هم ترجیح ما بر استفاده از صدای آهسته و کلام کمتر است، و سکوت به‌جا بیش از هر چیز دیگری برای‌مان اهمیت دارد. ولی این سکوت در روند ضبط و پخش به‌کلی نابود می‌شود. و چنین است که ما هنرهای‌مان را به دست خود از شکل می‌اندازیم تا با دستگاه‌ها هماهنگ شویم
(ص 28)

Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,377 reviews2,253 followers
December 1, 2018
In this delightful essay Junichiro Tanizaki looks at Japanese aesthetics, and selects praise for all things delicate and nuanced, everything softened by shadows, and the patina of age, anything understated and simply natural, for instance the patterns of grain in old wood, the sound of rain falling from leaves, or washing over the footing of a stone lantern in a garden, and refreshing the moss that grows around it, and by doing so he suggests an attitude of appreciation and mindfulness, especially a mindfulness of beauty, a natural beauty that is all around us, that one tends to forget or take for granted.

Tanizaki appreciates the world and its ordinary pleasures, and offers a sharp contrast to the functional, plastic, disposable aesthetic of modern western culture. Although his aesthetic is associated with a cultural perspective markedly different from western varieties, there is nevertheless something essentially familiar about it. It addresses the felt quality of experience in any lived moment, not just as an end in itself but because each such moment belongs to a lifelong series in which beauty and richness of experience are important components of the good life.

A tranquil, enchanting, and light read, Tanizaki really opens your eyes, where you just want to take a moment, sit back, relax, and think long and hard about what he is getting across. I guess you could look at this as an anti-modernist book, that floats with a poetic language over a range of things in a beautiful and evocative way. A fascinating insight into another culture, that illuminates the mind into thinking about things from a completely different angle.
Profile Image for merixien.
565 reviews301 followers
May 21, 2021
“Bana göre biz Doğulular, içinde bulunduğumuz şartlardan hoşnut olmayı amaçlayıp elimizdekilerle mutlu olduğumuz için karanlıktan şikayet etmek yerine bunun bir çaresi olmadığını kabullenip ışık azsa azdır der, karanlık üzerinde düşüncelere gömülür ve karanlığın içindeki doğal güzelliği keşfederiz. Ancak yenilikçi Batılı yetinmeyip elindekini iyileştirmekte kararlıdır her zaman. Mumdan gaz lambasına, gaz lambasından elektrik ışığına daha aydınlık bir ışık arayışı asla bitmiyor, en önemsiz gölgeyi bile yok etmek adına hiçbir zahmetten kaçınmıyor.”

Tanizaki, Doğu ile Batı arasındaki nüanslara değinerek atalarının karanlıklarda yaşama zorunluğunu gölgeyi keşfederek güzelleştirmesini ve bunun Doğu’nun güzellik ve estetik anlayışındaki etkisini anlatıyor. Gölgelerin ve alacakaranlığın getirdiği ince, loş ışığın zarif parıltısında, geçmiş dünyanın mükemmel olmayan koşullarının güzelleşmesine dair bir övgü bir bakıma. Tabii kitabın yazım tarihinin 1933 olduğunu atlamamak gerekiyor. Zira kitabın yazılmasından yaklaşık 70 yıl sonrasında Tanizaki’nin topraklarını ziyaret ettiğimde kitapta anlatılan hassasiyeti ve gölgenin dansını ancak tapınaklar ve geleneksel alanlarda görebildim. Zira artık ışık ve renkler Japonya’nın vazgeçilmezlerinden.
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews945 followers
December 17, 2019
The quality that we call beauty must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty's ends

(If you don't have time to read the whole of my review, go ahead and skip the next two paragraphs)

There is a practice essay prompt in the US College Board's guide to the SAT book that goes something like "Do changes that make our lives easier always make them better?". This is one of my favourite prompts, as it captures a real tension. It's easier to drive to the supermarket for a loaf, but wouldn't we be better off walking, saving petrol (and the money it costs), breathing some fresh air, enjoying the glorious Autumn day and (assuming they're in working order) stretching our legs? Might it not be even better if we used some of the organic whole spelt flour in the cupboard to make real honest-to-goodness home-baked bread? Take your frustrations out on an unfeeling lump of dough, save still more money, avoid additives and enjoy the fruit of your own labour! But we are time-poor, we are tempted, we drive to the supermarket after all.

Another common experience is sadness as an enjoyable technology is superseded. For decades after my mother stopped using her Singer sewing machine it sat in the corner taking up space, its implacable beauty defying anyone to suggest throwing it out.

This is Tanizaki's elegy for the aesthetic superiority of vanishing inconvenience and dirt. The Japanese house crouches in the deep shadow of its roof, lit by the mournful and meagre glow trickling through its paper walls. In this dimness, its simplicity and its natural materials, slowly gathering oily grime and wearing away (and thereby growing ever more beautiful), make sense; they provide the balance and poetry and mystery that make the quotidian details of life so pleasurable. Soup served in lacquer bowls so you can't see what's in it properly and chilly outdoor toilets are infinitely preferable, aesthetically speaking, to pale ceramic dishes and sparkling tiles.

My point in making light here is that Tanizaki sells it, even if I am repelled by his remarks on skin colour and dubious about the idea of a stable 'national character'. A writer who can make me yearn, spine tinglingly, for a wooden outhouse instead of a cosy en suite can only be a genius. There is a rich thought here about the subjectivity of experience that is missed by Western aesthetics. We plan our lighting for mood, but only for the stage consider how it will create the scene. When Tanizaki describes 'darkness lit by candlelight' or the gold costumes of the Noh glowing in dimness, he makes us aware that every banal drama of the day takes its character from its illumination. But he makes an even stronger point, a superb, thrilling point:
how different everything would be if we in the Orient had developed our own science. Suppose for instance that we had developed our own physics and chemistry: would not the techniques and industries based on them have taken a different form, would not our myriads of everyday gadgets, our medicines, the products of our industrial art - would they not have suited our national temper better than they do?

To take a trivial example near at hand... if the [fountain pen] had been invented by the ancient Chinese or Japanese it would surely have had a tufted end like our writing brush... and since we would have found it inconvenient to write on Western paper, something near Japanese paper would have been more in demand. Foreign ink and pen would not be as popular as they are; the talk of discarding our system of writing for Roman letters would be less noisy.. But more than that: our thought and our literature might not be imitating the West as they are, but might have pushed forward into new regions quite on their own.

This musing of the conservative, aging novelist is not mere nostalgia, letting the old machine linger and sighing uselessly for bygone days, but the wellspring of hope behind decolonisation: even the culture-shaping tools of science and technology can be remodelled and reshaped; the invader can be displaced by new growth surging up from the strong roots of indigenous knowings... This is something the Rationalist fails to imagine. Sometimes, Tanizaki's melancholic essay surprisingly shows us, radical change begins by going backwards.
Profile Image for Vladys Kovsky.
119 reviews27 followers
November 11, 2020
Although this book is primarily about aesthetics, I cannot entirely avoid mentioning the historical context. This short essay was written in 1933 when the nationalist agenda permeated every aspect of life in Japan. It is also noticeable in the pages of this book and in the mind of the author.

Written two years after the Manchurian Incident and the subsequent withdrawal of Japan form the League of Nations, one year after the assassination of a moderate prime minister Tsuyoshi Inukai, this essay praising traditional Japanese ways and criticizing shallow Western concepts of beauty must have fallen on fertile ground. Everything Japanese could be lauded, everything Western - dismissed. The author goes as far as suggesting that physics or chemistry could have been different and definitely more suitable had they been originally developed in Japan.

There is another notion implanted in the author's head by the prevailing attitudes: Pan-Asian union. Everything originally Chinese and already accepted in Japan should be praised, acknowledging cultural similarities and forgetting about differences, thus covertly justifying the invasion of China as some sort of desirable unification.

Keeping political context of the times aside, there are other issues that could raise objections from a reader. Grumbling about the new ways displacing the preferred traditional ones is one issue that has appeared over and over again and is treated much better elsewhere. One does not even have to leave Japan to find a more interesting discourse on the subject in 'The Master of Go' by Kawabata or in works of Mishima. Another issue is an attitude to women as objects, an echo of the past that even the contemporary Japan is still struggling with. Just one quote: "Our ancestors made of woman an object inseparable from darkness, like lacquerware decorated in gold or mother-of-pearl".

Returning to aesthetics, and specifically shadows, the analysis is quite good. There are multiple observations that make the reading of this tiny book worthwhile. The importance of the interplay of light and shadow in architecture, painting, performing arts and even cooking is elegantly explained. Most importantly, finding the beauty in the everyday, the need for the beauty we all crave and the easy ways to satisfy this need, is something the author insists on: "The quality that we call beauty ... must always grow from the realities of life."

Another quote, with which this reader wholeheartedly agrees, is found in the closing paragraph of the book: "In the mansion called literature I would have the eaves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration".
Profile Image for Steve.
442 reviews478 followers
January 8, 2015

The quality that we call beauty ... must always grow from the realities of life.

In Praise of Shadows,
written by the well known Japanese novelist Tanizaki Jun'ichirō (1886-1965) in 1933, is a particularly charming and discursive rumination on the differences between Japanese (indeed, East Asian) and occidental aesthetics (among other matters). It is also an illustration of the differences between the Japanese tradition of zuihitsu ("to follow the brush"), of which In Praise of Shadows is a most worthy modern exemplar, and the occidental tradition of the essay.

Ranging from toilets to hospitals, from architecture to paper, from writing and eating utensils to cuisine and sweets, from theater to feminine beauty, Tanizaki meditates on the differences, as he sees them, between East and West - subdued, tarnished, natural versus bright, polished, artificial; the cloudy translucence of jade versus the brilliant sparkle of diamond; the flickering half-light of the candle versus the steady glare of electric light.

Tanizaki was a cultural conservative and much preferred old Japan to new Japan (you won't find many photos of him in western garb). He quite rightly points out that if East Asia had been left to its own devices instead of being forced into the "modern" age in the nineteenth century, it may have "advanced" much more slowly but would have invented technology, devices, fixtures much better suited to the aesthetics of its people than the objects it found itself obliged to receive from its "benefactors."(*)

But let Tanizaki speak for himself - here is a passage where he draws some of the aesthetic consequences of the contrast between the low, heavy, wide roofs of East Asia and the relatively high, light, small roofs of the West (he likens the former to parasols and the latter to caps).

And so it has come to be that the beauty of a Japanese room depends on the variation of shadows, heavy shadows against light shadows—it has nothing else. Westerners are amazed at the simplicity of Japanese rooms, perceiving in them no more than ashen walls bereft of ornament. Their reaction is understandable, but it betrays a failure to comprehend the mystery of shadows. Out beyond the sitting room, which the rays of the sun at best can but barely reach, we extend the eaves or build a veranda, putting the sunlight at still greater a remove. The light from the garden steals in but dimly through paper-paneled doors, and it is precisely this indirect light that makes for us the charm of the room. We do our walls in neutral colors so that the sad, fragile, dying rays can sink into absolute repose. The storehouse, kitchen, hallways, and such may have a glossy finish, but the walls of the sitting room will almost always be of clay textured with fine sand. A luster here would destroy the soft fragile beauty of the feeble light. We delight in the mere sight of the delicate glow of fading rays clinging to the surface of a dusky wall, there to live out what little life remains to them. We never tire of the sight, for to us this pale glow and these dim shadows far surpass any ornament. And so, as we must if we are not to disturb the glow, we finish the walls with sand in a single neutral color. The hue may differ from room to room, but the degree of difference will be ever so slight; not so much a difference in color as in shade, a difference that will seem to exist only in the mood of the viewer. And from these delicate differences in the hue of the walls, the shadows in each room take on a tinge peculiarly their own.

Along with all the elements mentioned above, the free floating form of zuihitsu permits Tanizaki to comment on the complaints of the elderly, street lights, even throw in a recipe for a special kind of sushi. I must warn you that there is some remarkable rubbish in this zuihitsu,(**) but there is also eloquent insight into, in some respects, Japanese sensibilities in general and, throughout the text, the sensibilities of one of the most important novelists of the 20th century.

(*) Oh how he abominates tile, particularly white tile!

(**) Such as a startling disquisition on why the Asian's prediliction for shadows is a consequence of his not quite perfectly white skin!


Profile Image for Zadignose.
252 reviews149 followers
January 4, 2016
A backward, reactionary, nationalistic prose piece disguised as an essay on aesthetics, which engages in strange speculation and musing that is not at all well supported. But it gets better towards the end when its cantankerousness and hyperbole get amusing, and it does ultimately manage to express a mournful nostalgia for a dying aesthetic, even if that aesthetic is more of a personal aesthetic than the author admits, rather than being an expression of national character.


The aesthetic can be summarized thus: "Turn the lights down, it's too bright in here, especially for people with yellow skin."
Profile Image for صان.
396 reviews234 followers
July 26, 2017
بسیار جذاب! پر از ایده‌های معماری و زیبایی‌شناختی بر اساس فرهنگ ژاپن!
خوندنش بسیار لذت‌بخش بود.
Profile Image for ατζινάβωτο φέγι..
176 reviews6 followers
May 29, 2018
Ένα άκρως γοητευτικό δοκίμιο ή καλύτερα ένα εγκώμιο της σκιάς που παίζει καθοριστικό ρόλο στην ιαπωνική κουλτούρα. Ο Τανιζάκι εκθέτει την άποψη του για την φύση της ομορφιάς, για την αρχιτεκτονική, την διακόσμηση, τα σκεύη καθημερινής χρήσης, το θέατρο (ήξερα μονο το θέατρο Καμπούκι αλλα έμαθα και για το θέατρο Νο που διατηρεί την ατμόσφαιρα και τα μέσα παλαιότερων εποχών εστιάζοντας στην ααποτύπωση της πραγματικότητας χωρίς φτιασίδια).

‘’ Η ομορφιά δεν βρίσκεται μέσα στο ίδιο το πράγμα, αλλα γεννιέται από το φώς και το σκοτάδι, μες στις αποχρώσεις της σκιάς των πραγμάτων στην σχέση τους το ένα με το άλλο’’

Με εντυπωσίασε το πως το σκοτάδι και οι σκιές μπορούν να αναδείξουν το σύνολο αλλα και το κάθε σημείο ξεχωριστά μέσα σε μια ιαπωνική κατοικία . Ο τρόπος που σερβίρεται το φαγητό για παράδειγμα σε αντικείμενα από λάκα, που συμβάλλουν στην μυστηριακή και βαθιά απόλαυση του φαγητού, που δίνει χώρο για γαλήνη και περισυλλογή. Αποφεύγουν τα γυαλιστερά αντικείμενα, θέλουν ο χρόνος να έχει δημιουργήσει πατίνα στα σκεύη τους.

‘’Αυτό που ονομάζουμε ομορφιά… πηγά��ει πάντα από τις αναγκαιότητες της πραγματικότητας’’

''Στο παλάτι που λέγεται λογοτεχνία, τα υπόστεγα θέλω να είναι βαθιά και οι τοίχοι σκοτεινοί. Θα σπρώξω καθετί που χτυπάει στο μάτι μες στο σκοτάδι, θα προσπαθήσω να απογυμνώσω τα εσωτερικά απο καθε άχρηστη διακόσμηση... ''
Profile Image for Maria Lago.
442 reviews94 followers
March 12, 2020
Asombroso ensayo, lleno de fuerza evocadora y muy carente de objetividad: es todo pasión. No se miden estas cuestiones con la bara de la Ciencia, sino con la de Humanidades. El por qué sí y el por qué no de la belleza o de su ausencia están aquí muy bien argumentados, sin ser concluyentes. Una increíble lectura.
Profile Image for A. Raca.
729 reviews150 followers
August 23, 2019
"Sonra kapak çabucak açılır ve bu siyah kabın içine yığılmış, her tanesi inci gibi parlayan, saf beyaz yeni haşlanmış yemek dışarı sıcak buharlar yayar -işte bu her Japon'u etkileyen bir görüntüdür. Yemek pişirme sanatımız gölgeye bağlıdır ve karanlıktan ayrılamaz."

Japon kültürü hakkında ilginç şeyler öğrendim...
Profile Image for hosein.
79 reviews11 followers
December 27, 2022
مقاله ای به عنوان در ستایش سایه‌ها (درباره زیبایی شناختی)

تانیزاکی معتقد است که ژاپنی ها به لطف میراث فرهنگی خود زیبایی را در تاریکی و در سایه می‌یابند. این به این معنی است که از این فرض شروع می شود که همه اشیاء تشکیل دهنده یک جهان فرهنگی با موضوع مشترک هستند.
ارزیابی مثبت از سایه‌ها، تاریکی و شفافیت مطلقاً در تمام اشیاء جهان و رابطه‌ای که سوژه با آنها برقرار می کند آشکار می‌شود. به همین دلیل است که تانیزاکی با صحبت در‌مورد معماری، تئاتر ژاپنی (نوه، کابوکی، تئاتر عروسکی و...)، غذا و ادبیات شروع می کند.

تانیزاکی، اشیاء روزمره را بازتابی از نظامی از ارزش‌های زیبایی‌شناختی و فلسفی می‌داند که مرا یاد نقاشی های زیبای "یوهانس ورمیر" می‌اندازد. ارزش زبانی دوم. به همین ترتیب، تانیزاکی هنگام مثال زدن، ذهنیت و تجربه خود را معرفی می‌کند. او از خانه‌اش، لباس‌ها و بدن مادرش! رستوران‌ها و هتل‌هایی که بازدید کرده، نمایش‌هایی که به خوبی می‌شناسد می‌گوید.
آنچه متن را جادویی می کند نثر آن است. شاعرانه و ساده. به نظر می‌رسد که کلمات بخشی از نفس خود نویسنده هستند.
این یک کتاب آموزنده است، در مورد اینکه چگونه کارها قبلاً در ژاپن انجام می‌شد و اکنون چگونه انجام می‌شود و چقدر جادو به نفع فناوری از بین می رود.
Profile Image for Anastasia.
91 reviews35 followers
August 31, 2018
Σε έναν κόσμο που έχει ανάγει τη Δύση και τις συνήθειές της σε πρότυπο και αναζητεί την πολυτέλεια και την ομορφιά στα φανταχτερά αντικείμενα και στις γυαλάδες τους, που προσπαθεί να εξαλείψει κάθε σκιά και να αποφύγει με κάθε τρόπο το σκοτάδι, ο Τανιζάκι φανερώνει τη μαγεία των σκιών. Ο Ιάπωνας συγγραφέας πραγματεύεται τις αμέτρητες ποιότητες που μπορεί να προκαλέσει το παιχνίδι του ελάχιστου φωτός μέσα σε έναν σκοτεινό χώρο και τις αισθήσεις που μπορεί να αφυπνίσει, ενώ ταυτόχρονα νοσταλγεί εικόνες της καθημερινής ζωής στην Ιαπωνία που έχουν χαραχτεί στη μνήμη του με τη μορφή υφών, εντυπώσεων και βιωμάτων... πάντα με φόντο τις σκιές και την ομορφιά τους.
Profile Image for Yücel.
76 reviews
April 6, 2019
“Gölgeye Övgü” adından da anlaşılacağı gibi gölgeye, gereği kadar olan ışığa ve bunların bulunduğu ortamı adeta bir sanat eseri haline getirişine dair yazılmış bir deneme. Geleneksel bir Japon evinin yapılışında ışığın - gölgenin dengelenmesinden tutun, basit bir evdeki dekorasyonel oyukların nasıl gölgelendirilmesi - ışıklandırılması gerektiğine kadar, No Tiyatrosundan Kabuki Tiyatrosuna gölgenin önemine kadar daha birçok konuda Tanizaki’nin görüşlerini okuyoruz. Tanizaki’nin bu konuyu yıllarca düşündüğü, incelediği çok belli, adeta bu konunun en yetkin uzmanı gibi anlatıyor. Konunun meraklılarına ve Tanizaki’den ne olsa okurum diyenlere tavsiye ederim.
Profile Image for Caro the Helmet Lady.
763 reviews344 followers
May 30, 2022
Ko nesimato - nėra.
Tanizakis yra vienas mano mėgstamiausių rašytojų ever. Patvirkę diedukai, klastingos marčios, vyrai draskomi prieštaringų jausmų ir užgaidų, etc etc, na, dievinu aš tokią fuckery. Ši knygutė - iš esmės trumpas esė - apie tamsos ir šešėlių svarbą rytų ir ypač japonų kultūroje ir estetikoje, man buvo be galo įdomi, bet gal tik kiek trumpoka.
Na ir šioks toks mėginukas - ko gero tik Tanizakis sugebėjo pradėti savo traktatą nuo tradicinio lauko šikiniko estetinių privalumų aptarimo ir baigti va tokia simbolių ir metaforų kupina moters analize.
"Kadaise savo esė "Išioano užrašai" jau esu rašęs, kad šiuolaikiniai žmonės seniai įpratę prie elektros lempučių šviesos ir užmiršo kada nors buvus šitokią tamsą. Ypač "plika akimi matoma tamsa", kurioje lengva kilti haliucinacijoms, neva ten kažin kas mirgąs, ir kuri kartais yra gūdesnė už tamsą lauke. Ko gero, visokios pabaisos ir piktosios dvasios veikdavo tokioje tamsybėje, bet ar storomis užuolaidomis, keliais širmų ir pertvarų sluoksniais patamsyje aptvertos moterys vis dėlto nebuvo tų pabaisų pasiuntinės? Tamsa tas moteris susupdavo į dešimtis ir dvidešimtis sluoksnių, užpildydavo menkiausius plyšelius nuo apykaklės ir rankogalių iki valkčio siūlių. O gal net priešingai, tą tamsą jos nelyginant voras voratinklį išspjaudavo iš savo kūnų, iš burnos juodai nudažytais dantimis ir juodų plaukų galiukų."

P.S. Ir ne, Tanizakis nebuvo mizoginistas.
Profile Image for Argos.
1,003 reviews294 followers
April 3, 2021
Daha önce okuduğum yine Jaguar Yayın’dan çıkan iki uzun öykü kitabından çok farklı bir kitap, bir deneme. Tabii dili kullanışı ve edebi çıtasının yüksekliği aynı. Geçmişe, geleneğe, klasiğe özlem, modernleşme karşıtlığına yazılan bir övgü belki de bir ağıt.

Doğuluların (Çin, Japon, Hint) karanlıkta güzellik aramalarına karşı batılıların gölgelerden hiç keyif almadığını iddia ediyor Tanizaki, bunu günlük yaşamdan, mimariden, sahne sanatlarından örneklerle destekliyor. Aslında karanlık bir estetiği özlemle anlatıyor ki günümüz gerçekliğinden oldukça uzak düşüyor.

Bu denemesi için harcayacağınız zamanı öykü ve romanlarına harcayın derim.
Profile Image for P.E..
761 reviews525 followers
May 25, 2023

[Review to come later]


'The quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life, and our ancestors, forced to live in dark rooms, presently came to discover beauty in shadows, ultimately to guide shadows towards beauty’s ends.'

'We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates. [...] Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.'

'With lacquerware there is an extra beauty in that moment between removing the lid and lifting the bowl to the mouth, when one gazes at the still, silent liquid in the dark depths of the bowl, its colour hardly differing from that of the bowl itself. What lies within the darkness one cannot distinguish, but the palm senses the gentle movements of the liquid, vapour rises from within, forming droplets on the rim, and the fragrance carried upon the vapour brings a delicate anticipation... a moment of mystery, it might almost be called, a moment of trance.'

'it is on occasions like this that I always think how different everything would be if we in the Orient had developed our own science. […] Suppose for instance that we had developed our own physics and chemistry: would not the techniques and industries based on them have taken a different form, would not our myriads of everyday gadgets, our medicines, the products of our industrial art - would they not have suited our national temper better than they do?'

'Whenever I see the alcove [床の間, tokonoma] of a tastefully built Japanese room, I marvel at our comprehension of the secrets of shadows, our sensitive use of shadow and light. For the beauty of the alcove is not the work of some clever device. An empty space is marked off with plain wood and plain walls, so that the light drawn into its forms dim shadows within emptiness. There is nothing more. And yet, when we gaze into the darkness that gathers behind the crossbeam, around the flower vase, beneath the shelves, though we know perfectly well it is mere shadow, we are overcome with the feeling that in this small corner of the atmosphere there reigns complete and utter silence; that here in the darkness immutable tranquility holds sway.'

'In the mansion called literature I would have the eaves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration. I do not ask that this be done everywhere, but perhaps we may be allowed at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see what it is like without them.'

Profile Image for lavenderews.
510 reviews724 followers
May 4, 2023
Wyjątkowy, napisany z wielkim urokiem esej o japońskiej estetyce.
Profile Image for kübraterzi.
157 reviews16 followers
April 16, 2019
"Eğer Japon evinin çatısı bir şemsiye ise Batı'daki evin çatısı bir şapkadan öteye geçmez". Tanizaki için Doğu-Batı sorunsalı çok büyük bir dert. Bunun üzerine bütün bilgi birikimini de dahil edip bu denemeyi yazmış. Ancak bu kitaba deneme deyip geçmek de çok büyük haksızlık olur. Pek çok konuda(gerek tuvalet mimarisi gerek Japon kadınları üzerine) gölge ve karanlıktan bahsetmiş.
Japonların dünya çapında hayran olunan bir millet olmasının başında "güzelliği şeyin kendisinde değil karanlığın içinde ya da bir diğerinin üzerinde yarattığında aramasından" kaynaklandığını düşünüyorum artık. Tanizaki muazzam bir yazar! Jaguar yayınları da herzaman mükemmel!

Profile Image for Sgrtkn.
173 reviews21 followers
May 4, 2021
Tanizaki nin estetik algısı hakkında ve japon kültürü üzerine kısacık bir kitap. Kurgu dışı sevmeyen bana bile okuttu kendini :)
Profile Image for Hulyacln.
792 reviews373 followers
March 31, 2019
“Eskimeyenin karşısında bir tür korku duymadınız mı hiç; zamanın geçtiğine dair bilincinizi kaybedeceğiniz, sayısız yılların geçeceği ve kendinize geldiğinizde kendinizi yaşlanmış ve saçlarınızı beyazlamış bulacağınız korkusunu?”
Tanizaki demek tutku demek benim için. Bir tiyatroda oyuncunun uzun, dökümlü elbisesinden ellerini görüp hayran kalabilecek kadar tutkulu. Yaşadığı evin her santimini düşünüp, kullandığı mürekkebin dokusunu duyumsayacak kadar tutkulu..
Roman ve öykülerindeki ele avuca sığmaz Tanizaki’den Japon mimarisinden tiyatrosuna,edebiyattan giyime dek estetik algısını okuyoruz.
Eşya,mekan ve kişilerin aydınlık ile gölge arasındaki var oluşlarına içkin bir Tanizaki Juniçiro eseri..
İngilizceden (ki başarılı olduğunu düşünüyorum) çevirisinde Didem Kizen, perdelenmiş ışığa odaklanan kapak tasarımında Natalia Suvorova yer almakta (ancak kitap ismi ve yazar adının bu denli silik olmasını sevemedim~)
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