Wabi sabi, a philosophy that asks to be discovered

Wabi sabi is a concept inspired by Zen Buddhism and Taoism which celebrates both the simplicity and the beauty of imperfection...

My first encounter with wabi sabi dates back to my reading of Yasushi Inoue's book, The Master of Tea. It pushed me to discover wabi sabi through the tea ceremony, the basis of this philosophy advocating the harmony of asymmetry. Subsequently, when I opened a collection of poems by Kobayashi Issa, I strongly felt its impregnation in his haiku. I discovered a “moment of Beauty” in each word. Contrary to Western culture which advocates regularity, Beauty is ephemeral according to wabi sabi : it is a perpetual restart.
Later, I looked up from the books to realize wabi sabi impregnates Japanese culture. It seems to be unavoidable; it is the very essence of Japan. Like the youkai, the monsters of Japanese legends, it symbolizes a large part of that culture.

Wabi sabi is a philosophy that “asks to be discovered”. You can find it close to home, but you have to stop walking to look at it and appreciate it: the leaves of the ginkgos and maples that harmoniously litter the sidewalks around Osaka Castle, the imperfection of the buildings soberly renovated by young artists, the petals of the cherry blossoms that tint the dark streets and waters of a canal with a pale pink. It is a force that we can feel on the painting of our daily life made up of rush hours, advertising screens and gray human waves.

We can also feel wabi sabi by creating a piece of art. While making pottery, I understood that a hole in the clay was not the sign of clumsiness, but rather a beautiful hollow curve attached harmoniously to the other faces: my pot became “perfectly imperfect”. This pot would serve later as a container for a sober floral arrangement placed on a tokonoma lit by a modest light.

In the end, wabi sabi is for me a moment of sweetness and simplicity in a society that always tends to be more complicated. To go in search of this philosophy is to go in search of a "sweetness of life”. It means to accept to commune with a moment of Beauty to find calm and serenity.

The Writer’s info:

Clémence M. Gros

Clémence lives in Japan since 10 years ago. She loves writing about culture. She is convinced it is essential to promote all kind of cultures and in this context, she already published her own adventure book in french, Our Lost Bodies.

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