In Praise of Shadows

Japanese novelist Jun’ichiro Tanizaki illuminates how light and shade’s dependence on one another nuances everyday moments with repose and beauty.

Issue 21

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Fashion

“It comes with the thrill of a slap for us then to hear praise of shadows and darkness”

First published in 1933, In Praise of Shadows shines a light on Japanese aesthetics and how, when light falls upon spaces and objects, grace is cast in its shade. For American educator and architect Charles Moore, reading Tanizaki’s delicate prose came “with the thrill of a slap.” Here, Moore’s introduction to an English translation, written during a post at the UCLA School of Architecture, discusses the charm in realizing the unseen.

“One of the basic human requirements is the need to dwell, and one of the central human acts is the act of inhabiting, of connecting ourselves, however temporarily, with a place on the planet which belongs to us and to which we belong. This is not, especially in the tumultuous present, an easy act (as is attested by the uninhabited and uninha...

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