Idleness

2 February 2017

Japanese culture has always had a unique view on handwriting and was viewed as an art throughout their history. The Pillow Book looks at handwriting as a rather menial task though, a skill that need not be perfected in order to be a man (Shonagon 43). However, Kenko looks at handwriting as a form of masculinity, a way to show appreciation for the art work that is the language (Kenko 105). The little things that take much precision to perform become tasks that people must take great pride in order to be a member of Kamakura society.Writing letters was the only form of communication, and if you had bad hand writing it was also in poor taste to have someone compose a letter for you (Kenko 33).

Taking pride in one’s own abilities and to show usefulness became a standard in the culture. Women in Japan take great pride in their appearance, attempting to catch the eye of a man. Sei describes a girl who has a toothache and is holding her hand to her face, but the first detail to her appearance that she notices is her, “very beautiful hair, which she wears down her back, spreading in a great, bushy mass. (Sei 109) Long, flowing black hair is very important to Japanese women and they take a lot of care in it. The importance of hair is not lost in the centuries that pass, as Kenko understands it to be the primary attribute of a woman. “Beautiful hair, of all things in a woman, is most likely to catch a man’s eye. ” (9) The rise of the Samurais as an elite class came during the Kamakura period, in part of the need to protect ones land from another.

Idleness Essay Example

Each shoen needed a samurais population that would remain loyal to him and not the emperor in order to protect claimed land.The samurais became loyal to those whose land they protected, rather than the monarchy that controlled the country. In The Pillow Book, Sei recounts what she used to tell the Empress, “I must always come first in people’s affection. Otherwise I would far rather be hated or even actually maltreated. In fact, l I would rather die than be loved but come second or third. ” (Sei 82) Being valued by someone is as important as being loved by them. In a culture where it is common for a man to have more than one lover, she felt that if she was not the primary interest of someone’s heart than it meant absolutely nothing.

Sei believed that a person could only truly and affectionately love one person with their entire heart. These beliefs in love could come from the elitist belief of Buddhism that only allowed the highest in society to reach nirvana. The crossover into society is that one must be elite over the other people they come in contact with. Essays in Idleness also focus on the love that must be shared by two people. Kenko believes that love must be obtained by someone for them to live a real life ( Kenko 198-99). Kenko also looks at the absence of love that has fleeted a person.Once someone has left another, that want for another person shows them what love actually means to them.

Similarities between The Pillow Book and Essays in Idleness can be accounted by the height of culture that evolved in Japan during the Heian period. The Heian period is seen as the high point of Japanese culture. When the kamakura period comes around, they must draw the basis of their culture from those that came before them, and if they believed that the art of the people came before them, then why would there be a need to change.The rise of the Samurais can account for the change in Buddhism and the overall way of life in Japan. As samurais came to the top of the society during the Kamakura period, Zen Buddhism began to dominate culture. This sect of Buddhism put priority on listening and meditation, gathering information from the world around you. The observance of the world brought on the appreciation for the aesthetics in life as the world could not be seen as perfect from any view.

One must appreciate the process in which something is accomplished rather than the beauty of the final product.There is a need for all things of the world and the waste of any commodity is seen as a bad use of resources during the Kamakura period. Kenko looks at an empty space in a garden as a waste of the land (Kenko 185). The use of all resources was not needed during the Heian period because the society that was ruled by aristocracy did not see the importance of all things and was not aware of waste. The rise of the samurai class and their Zen Buddhism bring an appreciation for the use of all resources that differs from the beliefs of the Japanese that came before them.

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