Topics: Heian period, Japan, The Pillow Book Pages: 3 (1041 words) Published: October 12, 2012
Historians today consider both Sei Shōnagon (The Pillow Book) and Kenkō (Essays in Idleness) spokesmen for their respective ages. Each propounded a particular vision of male and female deportment and sensibility. Compare either the masculine or feminine ideals offered by these authors, or, alternatively, their views on proper relations between the sexes. How do differences between Shōnagon and Kenkō reflect historical change and the different perspectives of their eras? What other factors might explain contrasts between them? How can we account for any similarities/continuities?

Idleness- take in all the beauty from all aspect of life
9- the most beautiful aspect of a woman is her hair, but moves onto her nice skin

82- Must become first in people desires
oWould rather die than be second or third to someone
Literary works from the Heian and Kamakura periods allow us to follow the transformation, or stableness of Japanese culture between the two time periods. The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon and Essays in Idleness by Kenko Yoshida both offer insights into the values of Japanese culture during their respective periods. The exploration of these texts will show us what changed in Japanese culture from the Heian to the Kamakura period.

Japanese culture has always had a unique view on handwriting and was viewed as an art throughout their history. The Pillow Book looks at handwriting as a rather menial task though, a skill that need not be perfected in order to be a man (Shonagon 43). However, Kenko looks at handwriting as a form of masculinity, a way to show appreciation for the art work that is the language (Kenko 105). The little things that take much precision to perform become tasks that people must take great pride in order to be a member of Kamakura society. Writing letters was the only form of communication, and if you had bad hand writing it was also in poor taste to have someone compose a letter for you (Kenko 33). Taking pride in one’s...
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