Analysis Of Tanizaki's In Praise Of Shadows

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The title In Praise of Shadows is one that describes the essay quite accurately. Author Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Is highly opinionated on the way a person can view the world, and the beauty within it. He feels Japanese traditions that are becoming less and less common are still very beautiful, and deserve to be appreciated and understood by more people. Tanizaki believes there is much beauty in simplicity and contrast, that many people often disregard. Because of this, shadows are spoken of throughout many sections of the essay. While for many parts, Tanizaki is speaking of literal shadows, he also refers to many traditions in the Japanese culture that are underappreciated; he almost is referring to them as shadows themselves. Tanizaki applies …show more content…
This is apparent in the section where he reflects on technology- specifically photography. He ponders, “how much better our own photographic technology might have suited our complexion, our facial features, our climate, our land” (9) The point he is making here is that modern day technology, which was developed in the west, doesn’t captivate Japan and its people as beautifully as it could, had it been invented in Japan. Tanizaki is making the notion that while developing technology, westerners didn’t pay any more attention to the Japanese, than they would a shadow. As well as Westerners not acknowledging the Japanese while creating things, they also don’t appreciate Japanese creations, such as traditional stoves. While to some an electric stove may seem like an obvious choice, Tanizaki finds a sunken hearth as the best option for him. He reflects, “ Expensive it was, but at least so far as looks were concerned I counted it as one of my successes” (3). Based on this statement readers can tell Tanizaki values aesthetics over practicality. He cares more about the hearths ability to look right in a Japanese room, rather than cost and efficiency. To most Westerners, aesthetics are indeed a value, but not the primary concern. The importance of the way something will look in a room is often overcast by other priorities such as how innovative it is, and beauty can be pushed into shadows

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