Sunday, February 9, 2014


"Wabi-sabi suggests sentiments of desolation and solitude, positive characteristics in Mahayana Buddhism representing liberation from a material world and transcendence to a simpler life."

Wabi-sabi is a concept I've been obsessed with since Ito-san casually introduced me to it a few months ago.  Like many words, phrases and concepts in Japanese it is nearly impossible to explain or define, even in Japanese.  Part of the mystique, I suppose.  Ask any Japanese person about wabi-sabi and they will invariably say, "Ah, muzukashii desu."  (Ah, that is difficult).  For me, with my limited understanding of it, wabi-sabi is Japan.  It is the very essence of all things Japanese.  It is that je ne sais quoi that I love about this country and its ways.  What's odd is I feel I've known wabi-sabi my whole life; I just didn't know there was a term for it, and that the term was Japanese.

Author Leonard Koren wrote a thin volume on the subject in 1994 which I purchased.  He describes it thusly:

"Wabi-sabi is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic.  It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.  It is a beauty of things modest and humble.  It is a beauty of things unconventional."

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