In Praise of Shadows 陰翳礼讃

1 December 2015 ● 1 min read ● 1 image
In Praise of Shadows 陰翳礼讃

"Darkness causes us no discontent, we resign ourselves to it as inevitable. If light is scarce then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. But the progressive Westerner is determined always to better his lot. From candle to oil lamp, oil lamp to gaslight, gaslight to electric light — his quest for a brighter light never ceases, he spares no pains to eradicate even the minutest shadow.

Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty" - Junichiro Tanizaki

Junichiro Tanizaki – In Praise of Shadows discusses Japanese aesthetics in their various dimensions – from architectural design to the presentation of food, from ideals of beauty to the use of colour – by contrasting them with Western thought. It is Tanizaki’s view that Japan differs from the West in the distinct relationship it establishes with light and shadow. While the West obsesses over the progress, clarity and power of light, (traditional) Japanese sensibility delights in the subtle play of shadows, muted colours and the spaces they create.

Having read In Praise of Shadows recently for the third time, I set out to explore the use of light, shadow and colour in traditionally designed buildings around Tokyo and Kyoto during autumn, a time when both light and colour work well with each other, creating subtle shadows full of beauty.

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Ben Beech

I'm a photographer in Tokyo

English photographer living/shooting/working in Tokyo. I enjoy using both analogue and digital methods to make photographs.

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