Sunday, June 20, 2010

Will Miss #188 - wabi sabi

Plum blossoms bloomed and then died within a week at a house near mine. Taking the time to appreciate their transient beauty and even recognizing its passing are a part of wabi sabi.

The concept of "wabi sabi" is often talked about in Japan, but it's one of those things that is a little difficult to explain. You can read the full definition in the linked Wikipedia page, but it is the underlying aesthetic notion that drives Japanese people to take time out of their busy lives to go watch the leaves change color in autumn or view flowers in spring. The idea is that there is regard for transience of things, but this aesthetic involves a variety of other concepts as well (including incompleteness and asymmetry). I don't believe all Japanese people have a profound embrace or appreciation of wabi sabi, but I do think it is something which lies underneath many of their cultural practices and adds an interesting dimension to the way in which things are designed and regarded.

I'm going to miss the cultural aspects which are influenced by wabi sabi.