Natsume Sōseki's Kusamakura ('Grass Pillow'), published in 1906, was an attempt at a haiku-style novel, a reaction against the enthusiasm for European-style naturalism that had recently entered Japanese literature, and it works so beautifully (at least, to my mind, in English translation) that it is disappointing he didn't try anything like it again. Maybe one luminous book is enough. Its narrator is an artist escaping fast-modernising urban Japan for a solo-walking tour in the mountains, where he stays at a hot-spring resort and encounters a beautiful and enigmatic young woman, Nami (which means 'beauty'). His project is to see the world in aesthetic terms and experience everything he encounters as if it is a poem. Like Sōseki, he is at home in Chinese, Japanese and Western literature and over the course of the novel he quotes Basho, Wang Wei and Shelley. I should probably refer here to the parts of the novel where he theorises natural beauty and discusses landscape art (at one point he describes British painters' inability to paint light - 'nothing bright could be produced in that dismal air of theirs'.) Instead I will include one of his paragraphs of word painting. This is from near the end of the book, where the narrator lies down on the grass among wild japonica bushes, sensing as he does so 'that I am inadvertently crushing beneath me an invisible shimmer of heat haze.'
'Down beyond my feet shines the sea. The utterly cloudless spring sky casts its sunlight over the entire surface, imparting a warmth that suggests the sunlight has penetrated deep within its waves. A swath of delicate Prussian blue spreads lengthwise across it, and here and there an intricate play of colours swims over a layering of fine white-gold scales. Between the vastness of the spring sunlight that shines upon the world, and the vastness of the water that brims beneath it, the only visible thing is a single white sail no bigger than a little fingernail. The sail is absolutely motionless. Those ships that plied these waters in days gone by, bearing tributes from afar, must have looked like this. Apart from the sail, heaven and earth consist entirely of the world of shining sunlight and the world of sunlit sea.'