Yesterday morning, I woke up in a Japanese room. And it dawned on me: I understand what Tanizaki Junichiro was talking about.

“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.”

Being a content editor for a major client has not only been challenging, but most of all rewarding in experience in life and work. In light of that, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to Mie prefecture two weekends in a row.

Saturday, we were on set from 8am until 7pm, mostly outside in a blazing sun of over 30 degrees Celsius. It was an incredibly fascinating and exhausting experience, and the entire team was in dire need of rest. When the day ended and we pulled up at a majestic hotel on the top of a hill surrounded by trees, everybody’s tired faces lit up.

My coworker and I had rooms next to each other, and when we opened our doors simultaneously, we (no joke) exclaimed “Oh my God!” at the same time. The hotel itself was a chic and modern hotel, with traditional Japanese elements in the lobby. But all the individual rooms were traditional Japanese rooms. I had never stayed in a washitsu before. I just stood there for a moment, taking it all in.

After washing the day off, and coming back from dinner, I could not resist to have a little photoshoot by myself. The room was completely quiet and exquisitely minimalist; I could not let this opportunity go to waste. Being there by myself, my thoughts drifted to one of my favorite books: In Praise of Shadows, by Tanizaki Junichiro. In this essay on Japanese aesthetics, Tanizaki ponders on various aspects of Japanese culture like architecture and food. He explores the simplicity of traditional Japanese beauty in contrast to the West. Sitting on my zaisu (tatami chair) in Mie, I felt like I became part of his world.

“But for me the most exquisite touch is the pale white glow of the shoji in the study bay; I need only pause before it and I forget the passage of time.”

Just being in that room reignited so much emotion and love within me that I have always felt for the beauty of Japanese culture, that due to the fast pace of life, just runs by me at times. Strange how a physical space with so little in it can have such an impact.


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