The Pillow Book is a Japanese classic written over 1000 years ago. It is composed of notes by Sei Shonagon, one of the bridesmaids of the empress in the court. Her voice comes from a 1000 years ago from Japan to the present. It took me a while to figure out how awesome this is. When I started reading the book, I felt like I was chatting with this gorgeous woman. It was like she was talking about yesterday, not 1000 years ago.
The small and the simple
The Pillow Book is not one of those books you usually read. It’s what Shonagon wrote to distract herself or just out of boredom. Among these writings are court life, people who live in the palace and pleasant notes that shed light on the period. But the things that make the book enjoyable to read are the things that Shonagon loves and that she thinks are unfortunate. She wrote the moments, scenes, and experiences in such a beautiful way that you find yourself lingering at that moment. In addition to shedding light on Japan’s Heian period, she reminded me something. She reminded me to look at the small and simple beauties of life with awareness. And maybe take notes as well.
The Pillow Book is a book that you can read in sitting or a year. Just don’t forget to keep it near you at all times. It will make you smile.
“When crossing a river in bright moonlight, I love to see the water scatter in showers of crystal beneath the oxen’s feet.”Sei Shōnagon, The Pillow Book
About the book: The Pillow Book
The classic portrayal of court life in tenth-century Japan.
Written by the court gentlewoman Sei Shonagon, ostensibly for her own amusement, The Pillow Book offers a fascinating exploration of life among the nobility at the height of the Heian period, describing the exquisite pleasures of a confined world in which poetry, love, fashion, and whim dominated, while harsh reality was kept firmly at a distance. Moving elegantly across a wide range of themes including nature, society, and her own flirtations, Sei Shonagon provides a witty and intimate window on a woman’s life at court in classical Japan.
About the author: Sei Shonagon
Sei Shonagon was a Japanese author, poet and a court lady who served the Empress Teishi around the year 1000 during the middle Heian period. She is the author of The Pillow Book.