[ENG] Reflections on Japanese Taste: The Structure of Iki

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shira
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[ENG] Reflections on Japanese Taste: The Structure of Iki

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:46 am

NAME: Iyolin


Reflections on Japanese Taste: The Structure of Iki
by Kuki Shuuzouu (Shuzo)
ISBN: 0-909952-30-2

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My Opinion
I bought this book because I had seen it in one of my random searches on Amazon for kimono and Japanese culture books, and it fit the budget. Although not quite what I expected, I'm definitely not disappointed with the purchase and am happy to heave learned something and have it on my shelf. It's not a very long or difficult read.

It's an interesting enough read. The information helped me understand why the women in the woodcuts are dressed the way they are (mostly regarding the prints on the kimono), and why geisha and courtesans can be truly iki. Honestly, it can be a bit confusing at times, and it can be fairly "academic" in it's point of view and some parts aren't as interesting to me, but still over-all informative. It's a reprint of an older book, so perhaps iki has changed since then, but it's a very good basic understanding of what makes something "iki". I'll probably change how often I use the word thanks to reading this.

I don't like how he sometimes italicizes it, bolds it, and does other things, but it's definitely understandable. Introduces other Japanese "sense"/"fashion" terms that are informative and helpful in understanding Japanese style.

The information I found most informative I've shared. It is lacking in pictures, which I personally would have found most helpful to illustrate points, but it is a reprint of a fairly old (comparatively) book.

Inside you will find:
Introduction to the Word of Kuki Shuuzou
Preface
Introduction
Chapter 1: The Intensional Structure of Iki
Chapter 2: The Extensional Structure of Iki
Chapter 3: The Natural Expression of Iki
Chapter 4: The Artistic Expression of Iki
Conclusion
Notes & Glossary

Recommended for someone who wants:
- a more "intellectual" look at iki
- a deeper understanding of what makes something iki
- a deeper understanding of iki historically (early 20th c)

Not Recommended for someone who wants:
- a 'how to be iki' book
- clear definition of "this is iki" and "this isn't iki"
- an in depth discussion of geisha/courtesan style
- a look at modern, current styles of iki

Exceprts that I found interesting:
(not all of them, because you should get something out of the book if you buy it ;))

Introduction
"A beauty may be so from birth, but in order to become an iki person one requires both training and experience. Thus one can have a beautiful young girl but not an iki young girl. Iki is both more complex and more subtle than beauty;it is something both three-dimensional and stratified, straddling the interior and exterior of a human being. For example, the beauty of appearance and the beauty of sensibility are distinct. An iki person usually is iki in both appearance and sensibility at the same time."

...iki is a word for taste born from the pleasure of the townspeople...in the pleasure quarters and licensed brothel districts...thus iki is premised on wealth, pleasure, and experience.

After all, coquetry in its complete form must be something in which a relational and dynamic possibility between the sexes is made absolute. ... Such coquetry determines the 'passion' which is the keynote of iki. The second feature of iki is "chic"; that is to say, 'brave composure' (ikiji). The third attribute of "iki" is 'resignation' (akirame), an indifference which has renounced attachment and is based on knowledge of fate. ... It must be a well-formed and elegant disposition with good grace.

Another iki fashion from the Edo period onwards is the kimono decolletage which reveals the nape of the neck; it became generally fashionable in places other than warior mansions. There is coquetry ins imply showing the border of hair at the back of the neck.

Lifting a kimono skirt by the left hand is also the expression of iki.

Hands have a profound relation to coquetry. ... An iki 'hand posture' is evident in the nuances of lightly bending and curving hands. ... One can judge the soul itself through the reverberations which echo to the tips of the fingers. The very possibility of hands becoming the expression of iki virtually depends on this point.

Most informative style wise is chapter 4 because it discussed which patterns were and weren't iki and some reasons as to why. For example, the epitome of iki is the veritcal stripe, whereas pictoral design is certainly not iki. It also discussed iki colors; subdued colors are iki; bright ones are showy. The most iki colors are ones that can still be made out in the twilight; these lean toward blues and greens and purples.

shira
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Re: [ENG] Reflections on Japanese Taste: The Structure of Iki

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:47 am

NAME: SONGBIRD516


thanks for that review; it does seem like a very informative book! The excerpts that you included are also very enlightening. I can see why you'd say that you might use the word less.

shira
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Re: [ENG] Reflections on Japanese Taste: The Structure of Iki

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:47 am

NAME: Wintergreen


Historic and wordy? Sounds right up my alley! Thanks for posting this.

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shira
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Re: [ENG] Reflections on Japanese Taste: The Structure of Iki

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:47 am

NAME: bebemochi


This is a great review! I think I'm definitely going to add it to my wish list, so to speak.

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