Talk:Iki (aesthetics)

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The Tsu section of this page is partly plagiarized from Geisha: A Unique World of Tradition, Elegance and Art by John Gallagher, available on Google Books. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:44, 3 January 2008 (UTC), quote the original lines please! At some point, the alleged part was added by someone, I believe, but it's hard to tell at this point. Better yet, you can also modify the part into a proper quote from the book. Yuji (talk) 08:45, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

The word "plagiarism" did catch my attention, but I don't yet understand what the anonymous comment was intended to achieve. I did look at the Geisha text; and yes, it becomes immediately clear that the first two sentences of this paragraph were copied from this otherwise unreferenced source. I've changed a few words, and I've added an in-line citation and a bibliographic note in the References section; but beyond this, I'm unwilling to invest any more time. I still wonder what was going on here, but my passing interest might have been drawn towards more constructive issues ...? --Ooperhoofd (talk) 23:31, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Iki means audacious?[edit]

Can anyone explain how iki can mean audacious (i.e. unrestrained by convention or propriety; insolent) and restrained at the same time? Is this a matter of ineffective translation? I really don't know much about it. - Andicat

Hi, Andicat, can one be funny and sad at the same time (see Tragicomedy)? Clever and stupid? Beautiful and ugly? I say yes to all. Iki has various aspects, and some of them may seem contradictory. (^^) Yuji 08:48, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

"We should note that not all Japanese things show the quality of iki. In fact, there are many Japanese things that are not iki at all." -> Isn't this a bit trivial? I mean, here in North America, we have certain ideals of beauty, but obviously we have things (eg. garbage bins) which don't respect it... -Ramchip (5 March 2006)

Iki is not Sui?[edit]

I intern at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and we've had a number of conversations revolving around the concept of iki. The consensus among curators and other experts there seems to be that iki is synonymous with sui. Tastes may differ somewhat between Kanto and Kansai, but both are different readings of the same kanji, as evidenced by the antonym busui (無粋). Anyway, Yuji, I'm not arguing against you or doubting your own source of expertise. But I am curious about this discrepancy. Can you elaborate please, on what the differences between iki and sui are, and where you came by this information? LordAmeth 16:54, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Hi LordAmeth, Nice to know you. Kuki does argue that sui and iki is the same in 『「いき」の構造』 in a rather unconvincing way (which is noted by Tada and Yasuda (1979)). We could say Iki and sui is similar, but does it mean that (for example) Osaka aesthetics and Edo-Tokyo aesthetics are the same? I don't think so. As you know, some classical senses of iki demand immediate connection with things Edo. If you try to replace the word iki in a certain context with sui, you would notice that these two ideals are not always interchangeable. I don't think すいな計らい is used in the same way as 「いき」な計らい for example. In literature, as sui is represented with the same kanji (but not necessarily), it would be difficult to determine whether the occurrence was actually iki or sui in any case. Busui is just one of antonyms of iki. One would also argue the differences between busui and yabo. The word buiki (不意気) is also used (see 『「いき」の構造』), although it is not very common.

I am familiar with actual usages of iki, but I haven't lived in Kansai long enough. I would like to know actual usages of sui in conversations myself. Yuji 17:58, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Thank you. I find it a very interesting struggle to determine the true meanings of these terms; we may never truly be able to know what a late Edo-period citizen of Edo liked and didn't like, what they considered iki or busui. Of course, you are right, that even if the terms (iki and sui) are closely related, it would be folly to assume that aesthetic tastes should be the same in Kanto and Kansai. LordAmeth 18:50, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Hi all- one quick question. Kind of to do with iki (by the sounds of things anyway). What is your take Yuji, of shibui - especially in architecture? Brad

Brad, shibui is mentioned by Kuki in 『「いき」の構造』. It's a pretty general word nowadays (like iki). Today, one would describe anything cool as shibui. We also describe some fresh, novel design attempts as shibui. In a narrow sense, shibui would refer to subdued colors and less expressive designs, possibly traditionally Japanese (it may sound contradictory from the previously-mentioned meaning, though). Some golden Japanese temples may be gorgeous, but I would not describe them as shibui (or iki). Small tea huts or traditional Japanese gardens could be shibui, especially when they are in a proper context. Yuji 06:59, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as stub, and the rating on other projects was brought up to Stub class. BetacommandBot 04:08, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


I'm hopelessly lost in trying to understand iki. The lists of adjetives in the article, while potentially accurate, is completely baffling to someone of Western sensibilities. Could someone with a better understanding of the topic add a section which discusses notable examples of things which are iki, and some discussion of what makes them iki? Maybe also add some discussion of things which aren't iki, even though some think they "should be". -- (talk) 15:36, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

I also found this article to be confusing. It certainly would help to find concrete examples -- in painting, drama, and pre-modern literature especially. Further, the article fails to make a distinction between 1) the sense of iki as it was during period it originated (in Edo) and 2) what seems to be a modern sense of iki, used in the Wiki article to describe fashion or narrative style today. The mention of Haruki Murakami seems especially unsubstantiated and strikes me as essentialist, and therefore counter to that author's intention to write novels in a trans-national milieu (I'm considering Murakami's comments recorded in Jay Rubin's biography). The only helpful part was the material cited at the bottom, which seem have been ignored (or very poorly considered) in the crafting of the article above. I consider myself a generalist in aesthetics; I have no specialty in Japanese or Asian art theory. So, if someone in the various Japan Wikis would volunteer in bringing more historical context to this idea, it would certainly help me understand. Jabernathy77 (talk) 19:39, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

So what does iki mean?[edit]

The article says more about Tsu than it says about iki. Either iki is a word like "sjring" which does not have a meaning in the strictest sense, or it does have a meaning and would benefit from a better explanation... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:39, 7 July 2009 (UTC)