Things That Lose by Being Painted

blue room-sm

Sei Shonagon in The Pillow Book has a short list for Things That Lose by Being Painted: “Pinks, cherry blossoms, yellow roses. Men or women who are praised in romances as being beautiful.”

I was invited to a Beethovan string quartet concert at the surviving A.J. Davis Hudson River villa, the Dr. Oliver Bronson House in Hudson, NY. A.J. Davis was one of America’s greatest architects and the house is fantastic. The bones are all there and it’s being restored, but right now it’s a beautiful place with it’s peeling paint and marvelous hundred year old wall paper.

The ink dark moon


It’s true, the wind blows terribly here.

But moonlight also leaks

between the roof planks

of this ruined house.

– Izumi Shikibu (translated by Jane Hirshfield)




Kirei sabi – refined beauty and lonliness
Kirei suki – taste for refined beauty
Sabi – lonliness, lonely beauty
Yugen – mystery and depth