Asian studies in Lithuania
Original language: Japanese
Translated from: English
Authors: Sei Shonagon
Translated by: Tartėnienė, Giedrė
Full translated source bibliographical description:

Shonagon, Sei. Makura no Sōshi (vertė ir redagavo Morris, Ivan). Oxford University Press: 1967.

ISBN: 9789955700241
Published in: Kaunas
Published on: 2007
Publisher: Obuolys

Sei Shonagon lived Heian period, when culture of Japan was flourishing. Sei Shonagon was the dame of empress Teishi and she has been serving at the palace. She became the most famous as a writer when she has written a diary „The pillow book“. This book has been written when the author was still living at the palace. All stories in this diary help to make an impression  about those days Japanese imperial life and to describe motives of authoress life, as well. However, we cannot call this book typical diary or romance.

In this book Sei Shonagon reveals delicate art of Japan: the talent to take attention and admire small, uncommon things, that are drowned in casual life. „The crows fly back to their nests in threes and fours and twos; more charming still is a file of wild geese, like specks in the distant sky“. Often we do not notice things like leafs, felt under the feet in autumn, paintings of  hoarfrost in winter which are left on the window, charming tightness of crowd or deep breathing of yourself, when you are in the big space. In a rush we disremember to admire nature. Reading  this book, eyes see the different world around you. In my opinion, „The pillow book“ – is the way to let into our punctual life a part of Japanese quality of art.

This book is written in zuihitsu style. ‚Zuihitsu‘ translated from Japanese means ‚follow the pencil‘. It can be understood as a viewpoint to feel what you are doing. It is described all, important and unimportant things, in this book: relations with servants, oblation to strays, bet for melting snow, feelings when you are watching cherry‘s fading and some similar things. Japanese believe, that all things around us have their mission and sense. It is important to understand and to notice it. You cannot just read  Sei Shonagon’s „The pillow book“. You have to feel it.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU