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So, in addition to this being my travel blog that lets my mom know I’m still alive, it is also a journal for the classes I’m taking here. The required reading for one of them is Sei Shonagon’s “The Pillow Book,” which is actually really interesting. (Sorry teachers for saying ‘actually,’ as if I expected it to be boring, but assigned reading tends to be… well… dry.) Shonagon’s writing style is called ‘zuihitsu,’ which is translated as ‘miscellany’ or ‘wherever your pen takes you’ and her pen often takes the form of lists (irritating things, beautiful things, rivers, lakes, mountains. Some of her lists have explanations for each item, some are just item, item, item.) So our writing assignment for tonight (5/19) was to write a list, or lists, in her style.

Things that do not go well together: Many things are combined every day but here are a few pairs that particularly disagree with each other. Over-packers and subways. Over-packers and most types of travel, really, but watching someone struggle to lift their extremely large bag into the car as the doors are closing and their backpack is already crushing a businessman is a depressing sight. Skinny jeans and squat toilets; skinny jeans and large people; skinny jeans and any occasion which involves taking off your pants (trying on clothes, changing to go swimming, going to bed when exhausted.) Silver and gold jewelry. On their own, each is fine (though I prefer silver) but when combined, silver and gold together look worse than plastic jewelry or no jewelry at all. Small children and too much television.
Temples/shrines we have visited thus far on this trip: Senso-ji, Meiji Jingu, Heian Shrine, Shoren-in, Chioan-in, Ishiyama-dera, Enryaku-ji, Kyomizu-dera, Fishimi-Inari Taisha.
Countries I have visited in my life and the first thing I remember about them: America (McDonalds), Canada (Being forced to speak French with my school group), British Virgin Islands (The Baths at Virgin Gorda), Ireland (The Blarney Stone), England (Constantly overcast), Scotland (Bagpipes… I know that this is a cliche first thought, but it was mine), France (Being able to speak the language), Spain (Gaudi architecture), Italy (Jumping rope while in line for the Coliseum), Corsica (Napoleon was born there), Norway (Hiking a fijord), Sweden (Hiking another fijord), Finland (The cool teens hang out in a shopping mall in an underground train station), Estonia (there was a fort built by the French with British money on Estonian land and filled with Finnish soldiers to fight the Russians or some such bizarre mix of countries), Netherlands (Not really knowing what marijuana was because I was 12, but knowing it was legal there), Denmark (Beautiful, want to visit again), Russia (Being terrified all the time) and now, Japan! The first thing I remember about this beautiful place will have changed by the time I’m gone, but right now: real ramen is SO different and so much better than Cup O Noodles.
Colors I have dyed my hair: Most shades of brown and blonde, black, copper red, fire-truck red, barbie pink, pink/purple/blue, purple, blue, and cotton-candy pink.
Shonagon was known for her wit, and I doubt that this post will go down in world history like The Pillow Book, but I hope it was mildly entertaining. Actual update later tonight/ this morning for you in the US.
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One thought on “Class Assignment: Sei Shonagon-Style Lists.

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