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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Embrace the dark side!
This book has a foreword from someone at UCLA's School of Architecture - so perhaps that is a clue to where it is aimed.
Tanizaki makes a good argument that Japanese art (eg, lacquerware, calligraphy, gold statues, no and kabuki, etc.) cannot be best appreciated in bright, white and shiny surroundings, which he characterizes as Western. He prefers a natural diffused...
Published on 11 July 2007 by stevieby

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars shadowy
I came across Junichiro through seeing 'Shunkin' at the Barbican (Bite2009) and wanting to know more as I loved the delicacy of the play, and am disappointed that I can't seem to locate a copy of 'Portrait of Shunkin'. I enjoyed 'In praise of shadows', although it is quite slight; I can appreciate that it is an artist's view of ancient and modern Japan, which fascinates...
Published on 5 Mar 2009 by currer bell


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Embrace the dark side!, 11 July 2007
This review is from: In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This book has a foreword from someone at UCLA's School of Architecture - so perhaps that is a clue to where it is aimed.
Tanizaki makes a good argument that Japanese art (eg, lacquerware, calligraphy, gold statues, no and kabuki, etc.) cannot be best appreciated in bright, white and shiny surroundings, which he characterizes as Western. He prefers a natural diffused light, softer colours and the 'wear and tear' of wasi-sabi.
At this point in his life Tanizaki (1933) had turned against Western influence, so this is really "In Praise of All Things Japanese!" He does stray from his subject and ramble on like a 'Grumpy Old Man,' which he admits. Partly nostalgia - for he is really railing against the Japanese who had already embraced the 'bright lights' of the West, I'd say he crosses the politically correct line several times and made me feel uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, Tanizaki offers us a valuable link to a rich past, and there is still much we can learn from there. Like how a setting can enhance or destroy our appreciation of an object, a person or theatre. Or, why we should not be afraid of the dark!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating and Brilliant, 21 April 2004
By 
ZDDQ140770 - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Recommended for anyone studying architecture, design, sculpture or art,but I've been giving it out as a general gift for years. Not a novel, butan elegant short essay regarding space, shadow, and light. Veryenlightening (pardon the pun) and will make you think about the space youoccupy in a new way, and may even encourage you not to switch the light sooften....charming and brilliant.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...and it's not just for designers, 10 Feb 2009
This review is from: In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Some reviewers were troubled by parts of the essay that are "weird" or politically incorrect. However, this work is a preservation of a disappearing era, and succeeds in pinpointing the roots of the beauty in the things it describes. Those things themselves, then, are not as relevant as the underlying lesson in appreciating and understanding spaces, moods, customs, and the day-to-day. Here is a subtly delivered train of thought, demonstrating the gentle delineation and enjoyment of nuances that are easily and commonly ignored.

Short, cheap, and easy to read, it can be recommended to almost any thoughtful person. It is well worth taking as a companion to Tanizaki's novels, too, as an elucidation of his style of thought. (In particular, 'Some Prefer Nettles' addresses related themes of culture, custom, enjoyment and appreciation.)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rationale of the Senses, 10 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: IN PRAISE OF SHADOWS (Paperback)
I found this book originally 4 years ago for $1 in a discount bin at a tiny, cheesy bookstore in a mall. Just for kicks I bought it and was delighted by the chance of finding it. It is a little gem that describes one man's view of Japanese culture and design as compared with our sterile Western ways. As a (then) student of an Interior Design degree, I found it to be a worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book review, 18 May 2010
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G. A. Messina "giosi" (uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Truly wonderful essay that depicts a nostalgic, yet attentive narrative of japanese cultural identity in modern society.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic resume and down to earth approach to architecture, 6 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This is a wonderful account of the personal experience of the author with the interior architecture and the pleasure that the emplacement of objects and the light that they catch brings to him.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but limited., 22 Feb 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: IN PRAISE OF SHADOWS (Paperback)
A fascinating small work which underscores a key point about Japanese and western aesthetics. But it has distincly wierd undertones and comes across as a reactionary pleading a very localised case. Perhaps someone will pick up the theme in a more general way which reviews the emotional and psychological content of light and shadow. Shame about the bad cover design of the new addition.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Contemplation, 20 Jan 2012
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This review is from: In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
In Praise of Shadows is an essay on aesthetics by one of my favourite Japanese writers, it was originally published in 1933, with the English translation coming out in 1977. This is a tiny book of less than fifty pages, containing a foreword and an afterword, making the essay itself only forty-two pages long, which means it can be read in one sitting, although that would be defeating the point of it, this should be savoured, this book should be read and re-read, should be immersed in. Jun'ichiro Tanizaki discusses traditional Japanese aesthetics in contrast to the changes occurring in his country, or to be more accurate the westernisation of it. Through this essay he compares light & dark, stating that the West with it's fundamental quest for progress, can be represented as a continuous search for greater light and clarity, whilst in contrast the Japanese path is through shade, that to appreciate Japanese art and literature, you need to understand it's shadows and the subtle nuances perceived within them. By this method he goes on to explain how this can reach into every part of our lives from what we eat out of, to what our toilets should look like and how they should be perceived. In the afterword it says that one of the oldest and most deeply ingrained of Japanese attitudes to literary style, is that anything with to obvious a structure is contrivance, that to orderly an exposition falsifies the ruminations of the heart, that the truest representation of the searching mind is just to "Follow the Brush" this gives "In Praise of Shadows" a conversational tone, and doesn't come across as an essay, it is more haphazard, as though you were following the thought process of a gifted writer.
Although this eloquent strange book is primarily an essay on the Japanese sense of beauty, it is also an act of meditation and an elegy to a culture he perceived to be receiving it's last rites, making it part clarion call, part last post. This little book discusses architecture, drama, food, beauty and various other aspects of Japanese culture and how the rush for progress, with the adoption of western values, has created an uneasy, unbalanced clash of cultures, with the more forceful Western culture, with it's bright garish modern technology, challenging his own softer, quieter aesthetic tradition.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jump in, 27 Jun 2014
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This review is from: In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This is a great book with poetic language into which you can immerse yourself.

It is also full of fascinating insights into a lost Japanese way of life; rooms decorated with flecks of gold as the sole source of illumination, women blackening their teeth to accentuate their facial features. How about that for a beauty tip?
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful atmospheric book, 6 Feb 2014
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This review is from: In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
A very interesting read. Tanizaki writes in a most unusual style and made me think differently about light and dark and how they work together.
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In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics)
In Praise Of Shadows (Vintage Classics) by Junichiro Tanizaki (Paperback - 3 May 2001)
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