One needs to be a good listener to read Kawabata properly to hear what is not written. There were times where after a reading session, I felt the quality of my surroundings change, while at other times, I was left with a frustrating feeling, not being able to hear the unwritten.
Kawabata uses space so effectively, not only in what is left empty, but in the spacing between paragraphs as well. Spacing can mark the passage of time (although not necessarily), let linger a resonating feeling, or capture the shifting emotional tensions between characters in their dialogue (I imagined moments like this cinematically, where there is a shift from one type of shot to another). The Old Capital refers to Kyoto, and this novel is tinged with nostalgia for an unchanging past in the face of change and modernity. However, it does not read like a lament; there is an acceptance of the end of an age.