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What is Wabi-Sabi? -Introduction to the Japanese Sense of Beauty



The definition of  the word Wabi-Sabi is really unclear. It is pretty hard to understand its meaning for people who are not familiar with the word. However, it is a really important idea when you travel in Japan.

That is because Wabi-Sabi represents the Japanese sense of beauty.

So, I would like to talk about what is “Wabi-Sabi” through comparing two famous temples.


Kinkaku Temple

Tanaka/ Kinkaku/ Wabi-Sabi

Here is Kinkaku Temple, established in the end of 14th Century. This is one of the most popular places for tourists visiting Kyoto. The temple is all covered with gold and has a gorgeous beautifulness. Especially, in winter, the temple covered with snow is just amazing! It is definitely worth visiting when you come to Kyoto.

Ginkaku Temple


In contrast to Kinkaku Temple, which has an “obvious” beauty for anyone, this Ginkaku Temple has a different type of appeal. It has a simple design, and the atmosphere of the temple is very quiet. You must feel the different kind of beauty here in Ginkaku Temple!


 What is “Wabi-Sabi”?

In order to understand the beauty of Ginkaku Temple, Wabi-Sabi is a really important sense.

The word Wabi means “loneliness” or “sadness”, and Sabi is used for indicating a deteriorated condition. So, Wabi-Sabi originally has a negative implication.

However, the Japanese type of beauty can actually be found in such negative conditions. Japanese people do love beautifulness of things that are declining.


Tanaka/ Koyo/ Wabi-Sabi

Seeing colored leaves is one of the highlights of Kyoto trip in a year. In November, people from all over the world visit Kyoto to see those beautiful leaves changing their color.

Trees begin to bud in spring and grow in summer, and their leaves fall toward winter. Autumn is a sad season in which it goes toward winter. However, people might be attracted by such an evanescence of falling leaves.

As mentioned above, people in Japan have found the beauty in simplicity or in sadness. If you know the sense of “Wabi-Sabi”, you might be able to understand the beauty of Japanese arts. It is really worth knowing when you travel to Japan.

Find that type of beauty in Japanese arts!

Tanaka/ Wabi-Sabi


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