A Japanese journey

Literary text excerpt


from Junirochiro Tanizaki

Photo travel diary, Japan © Alden Miranda

“If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty.”

"Some would say that the fallacious beauty created by darkness is not authentic beauty, but as I said earlier, we Easterners create beauty by shadowing places in their own right. even insignificant. "

"So it is not impossible to claim that it is in the construction of the places of comfort that Japanese architecture reaches to the summits of refinement. Our ancestors who poetized everything had paradoxically managed to transmute in a place of the ultimate place to be the most sordid of the whole house, and by a close association with nature, to blur it into a network of delicate associations of images. Westerners who, deliberately, decided that the place was dirty and that we should be careful not to make any public mention of it, infinitely wiser is ours because we have penetrated there, in truth, until the marrow of refinement. "

"For a lacquer decorated with gold dust is not meant to be kissed at a glance in an illuminated place, but to be guessed in a dark place, in a diffuse glow which, at times, reveals one or the other detail, so that, most of its sumptuous scenery constantly hidden in the shadow, it arouses inexpressible resonances.
In addition, the brilliance of its sparkling surface reflects, when it is placed in a dark place, the agitation of the flame of the luminaire, thus detecting the smallest current of air which crosses from time to time the calmest room, and discreetly encourages the man to dream. There were no objects of lacquer in the shady space, this world of dream with the uncertain clarity that secrete candles or oil lamps, this beat of the pulse of the night that is the blinking of the flame, would lose for sure a much of their fascination. As well as thin streams of water running on the mats to gather in stagnant layers, the rays of light are captured, one here and the other there, then spread thin, uncertain and glittering, weaving on the web of at night like a damask made of these drawings with gold powder. "

"What is called beauty is usually only a sublimation of the realities of life, and so my ancestors, forced to remain willy-nilly in dark rooms, one day discovered beautiful in the shadow, and soon they came to use the shadow to obtain aesthetic effects. "

"It is the nature of traveling to bring back anything other than what was sought."

Nicolas Bouvier's Japanese Chronicle

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