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The Difference Between Westernization Beauty And Of That In Japanese Aesthetics Presented In The Novel, Thousand Cranes By Yasunari Kawabata

1377 words - 6 pages

“Thousand Cranes introduces Western readers to unfamiliar aspects of Japanese culture and geography while they contrast pre- and post- World War II Japan. Kawabata succeeds in integrating Western literary techniques with Eastern spirit while achieving superb psychological fiction,“ (Moran). Yasunari Kawabata’s novel Thousand Cranes is set in a post-World War II time period, and the orphaned, main character, Kikuji becomes involved with Mrs. Ota, one of his father’s former mistresses, who ends up committing suicide. After her death, Kikuji turns to her daughter, Fumiko. The novel contributes Japanese aesthetics and shows readers a side of beauty that is much different. As one reads this ...view middle of the document...

It connotes natural progression-tarnish, hoariness, rust-the extinguished gloss of that which once sparkled,“ (Lawrence). These two words put together become a word that finds the beauty in imperfection and things that have gone through “the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death.” (Lawrence). Recently, westerners have been trying to mimic sabi. What is not realized is that this is impossible. Sabi is not something that you can just produce in a factory, it is a gift. A gift from nature and time.
Today, in Western countries, beauty is perfection. Numerous amounts of people get injected to make their lips fuller or face tighter, die their hair, others even receive plastic surgery. Some go on unhealthy diets, all of this just to fit the ideal image set by society in the Western hemisphere. Instead of embracing the beauty in wrinkles and gray hairs that have been gifted to us by time, westerners attempt to diminish it. Also, Westerners are taught that bigger is better. Always go with the bigger option. The bigger house, the bigger car, everything. “In America we're plied daily with sales pitches that will help us improve ourselves, our circumstances, our homes. We can have the whitest teeth, the cleanest carpets, and the biggest SUV money can buy,” (Lawrence). In contrary, a wabibito (wabi person) person is able to do more with less. “Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass,” (Lawrence).
In the novel Thousand Cranes, Mrs. Ota, Kikuji’s father former mistress and Kikuji’s short term lover, is in her forties. She has wrinkles on her face and gray hairs, yet Kikuji, who is in his twenties, finds her beautiful even with these “flaws” gained over time. This shows how perfection does not need to be present for someone to be found beautiful.
Tea embodies much of the beauty in Japanese culture . Near the end of the novel, Kikuji and Fumiko find his and hers Shino and Karatsu. The Shino belongs to Fumiko’s mother and the Karatsu belongs to Kikuji’s father. They used the Shino and Karatsu to drink from when they were together. “Shino and Karatsu are among two types of traditional ceramic bowls that are important to the narration of Yasunari Kawabata in Thousand Cranes . Shino glazes came to fruition in kilns around 4 to 5 centuries ago, using a special soil “in the Tajimi and Toki areas”. Karatsu is another ceramic-style of Japanese pottery dating from almost the same era. It also is used in tea ceremonies,” (THOUSAND CRANES, BEAUTY, WAR, WARES and SUICIDES).
Throughout the novel, Kawabata talks about varies bowls in the tea ceremony and how sacred these bowls are. The Shino that belongs to Fumiko’s mother is a whitish color but has a red stain on it that looks as if it were a lipstick stain. Kikuji admires the Shino and thinks it is beautiful even with its stain of imperfection. While in the house alone, Kikuji is washing the Shino. After washing it, he came to a suspension that the creator of...

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