decoration on a Japanese temple door.
photo Jeremy White
Much of what Sei Shonagon, a lady-in-waiting at the Court of the Emperor of Japan at the end of the tenth century AD wrote in her pillow book can be adapted to remain valid more than a thousand years later. Here are some more examples of her lists.
Things That People Despise
The north side of a house.
Someone with an excessive reputation for goodness.
An old man who has lived to be too old.
A frivolous woman.
A mud wall that has started to crumble.
Things About Which One Is Liable To Be Negligent
The observance of a single fast-day.
Preparations for something that is still well in the future.
A lengthy retreat in a temple.
A son-in-law who is praised by his father-in-law;
A young bride who is loved by her mother-in-law.
A silver tweezer that is good at plucking out the hair
A person who is in no way eccentric or imperfect, who is superior in both mind and body , and who remains flawless all his life.
People who live together and still manage to behave with reserve towards each other. However much these people may try to hide their weaknesses, they usually fail.
When people, whether they be men or women, have promised each other eternal friendship, it is rare for them to stay on good terms until the end.
Small Children And Babies
Small children and babies ought to be plump. So ought provincial governors and others who have gone ahead in the world; for, if they are lean and desiccated, one suspects them of being ill-tempered.