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Tweets From The Pillow Book

Sei Shonagon (with apologies to Hokusai)

The author of The Pillow Book mastered the trending hashtag and the snarky tweet ten centuries before anyone had ever heard of Twitter…

@seishonagon One has gone to bed and is about to doze off when a mosquito appears, announcing himself in a reedy voice #hatefulthings

@seishonagon One has been foolish enough to invite a man to spend the night in an unsuitable place – and then he starts snoring #hatefulthings

@seishonagon One is telling a story when someone breaks in with a detail he happens to know, implying that one’s own version is inaccurate #hatefulthings

@seishonagon When the ornamental comb one has ordered turns out to be pretty #pleasingthings

@seishonagon I look for an object that I need at once, and I find it #pleasingthings

@seishonagon Finding a large number of tales that one has not read before #pleasingthings

@seishonagon A man recites his own poems (not especially good ones) and tells one about the praise they have received #embarrassingthings

@seishonagon Lying awake at night, one says something to one’s companion, who simply goes on sleeping #embarrassingthings

@seishonagon To have spoken about someone not knowing that he could overhear #embarrassingthings

@seishonagon A very cold winter scene #thingsthatgainbybeingpainted 

@seishonagon Cherry blossoms #thingsthatlosebybeingpainted

@seishonagon The inside of a cat’s ear #squalidthings

@seishonagon The back of a piece of embroidery #squalidthings

@seishonagon Darkness in a place that does not give the impression of being very clean #squalidthings

@seishonagon A large tree that has blown down in a gale, and lies on its side with its roots in the air #thingsthathavelosttheirpower

@seishonagon A man of no importance reprimanding an attendant #thingsthathavelosttheirpower

@seishonagon The retreating figure of a sumo wrestler who has been defeated in a match #thingsthathavelosttheirpower

@seishonagon The last day of the Twelfth Month and the first of the First #thingsthataredistantthoughnear

@seishonagon Priests. Fruit. Houses. Inksticks for inkstones #thingsthatshouldbelarge

These are all quotes from the Ivan Morris translation of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, written by a woman who lived a thousand years ago.

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan

Cover of The Last Tea Bowl Thief by Jonelle Patrick
For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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