Sei Shonagon was a poet, diarist, and lady in waiting in court in late 10th century Kyoto. Her diary, or Pillow Book, was so elegant, imaginative, and evocative that it is still read with great pleasure today.Haru wa akebono . . . In spring, the dawn. The sky, dyed in morning light, slowly brightens and purple clouds stretch across the mountains. . . .
One charming feature of her pillow book is it's 164 lists. I have always loved including lists in my journals - I still remember the diary I kept at 16 which was filled with lists, both whimsical and practical, from places I wanted to visit to the most beautiful sounding words. But Sei Shonagon's lists are so much more interesting! “Things That Make You Feel Nostalgic,” “Occasions That Induce Half-Heartedness,” “Things People Despise,” "Elegant Things," "Things That Cannot be Compared," "Rare Things." Here are a few things included on her list of Elegant Things:
- A white coat worn over a violet waistcoat
- Duck eggs
- Shaved ice mixed with liana syrup and put in a new silver bowl
- A rosary of rock crystal
- Wisteria blossoms
- Plum blossoms covered with snow