Excerpt | The Japanese Toilet

every time i am shown to an old, dimly lit, and, i would add, impeccably clean toilet in a nara or kyoto temple, i am impressed with the singular virtues of japanese architecture. the parlor may have its charms, but the japanese toilet truly is a place of spiritual repose. it always stands apart from the main building, at the end of a corridor, in a grove fragrant with leaves and moss. no words can describe that sensation as one sits in the dim light, basking in the faint glow reflected from the shoji, lost in meditation or gazing out at the garden. the novelist natsume sōseki counted his morning trips to the toilet a great pleasure, 'a physiological delight' he called it. and surely there could be no better place to savor this pleasure than a japanese toilet where, surrounded by tranquil walls and finely grained wood, one looks out upon blue skies and green leaves.


tanizaki, j (1933) in praise of shadows