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The Wabi in my Sabi

Do you get Wabi-Sabi (all nationalities)

  • Yes, I am an eight degree wabi-sabi master!

    Votes: 3 23.1%
  • Once in awhile.

    Votes: 3 23.1%
  • Usually not...

    Votes: 3 23.1%
  • Wabi is that stuff in sushi, right?

    Votes: 4 30.8%

  • Total voters


Omnipotence personified
15 Mar 2003

"Do you think foreigners are able to understand the Japanese soul ("wabi-sabi")?"

An broadside from Mr. Momachi, freshly returned from Manchuko

"No, they cannot. Mentally and physically they are built differently. Japanese are very sensitive about the intangible feelings influenced by seasons, scenery, sounds and so on."

The pragmatism of Mr. Tamachi

"How could they understand it? Even young Japanese do not understand it now."

Maybe if I get on TV!

"I think some foreign TV personalities can understand the Japanese soul."

The voice of reason: Mr. Osamu

"Unless they have been living in Japan for many years, it must be difficult for foreigners to understand the concept."

Value and culture judgments are something that is learned. Sure, non-Japanese might place a different value in things, but saying someone can never appreciate wabi-sabi is like saying only Europeans can ever appreciate classical music.

If you place a famous tea bowl in front of someone and don't bother to explain about it, it is the same as listening to a piece of music you know nothing about. Say it is an atonal work. At first it might sound bad, but with a little education, you might begin to hear the complexity and value the work that went into making it.

The same with the tea bowl. People might say it is cracked, or an ugly brown color, but if you take the time to show some other examples and the principle behind why it is considered a great tea bowl, people will understand. Also, like Mr. Osamu noted, it is something that comes with time as well.

Where does all this wabi-sabi elitism come from? Is it like the same mindset as the Japanese rice thing?
Yes, I think the Japanese to some degree based upon individual cases think they are ultimately superior to any other nationalities Some have outrageous levels than others to a degree of wanting to knock them down several notches. Then you have others that are less likely to express their feelings.

I think foreigners can understand these nature concepts but the Japanese mind is full of complexities. They have many contradictions from what they say and do. They are ruled by a group of their peers. But, it seems if your a foreigner by yourself with a Japanese, they might perhaps express a totally opposite feeling.
O.K. O.K. I am perhaps off the subject now. I guess you were talking about the nature thing and Japanese soul. Are they really the same? Seems to me that the average Japanese don't even express wabi sabi concepts. Their world looks far too busy to have patience for those nature appreciation times only for select days as Sakura picnics in March or April.

I find wabi sabi interesting and informative. I think it's nice to think about these things when we get a time to relax and enjoy.
i read an article about this on soem website and out of like 100 japanese or so like 80% or close to it said that they think foreigners(especially americans) can not understand it
Well, first of all, I have asked a few Japanese people to explain wabi-sabi to me, and they really can't. I mean, I can tell that wabi means kind of like serenity found within simplicity or something like that and that sabi is rusted(old). I mean, I thought I could identify with that, but since I can't get a really clear translation, I will not say whether I can relate to it or not. It's truly a unique Japanese expression.

I was also told that if younger people (maybe born after WWII) used this expression describing something, they would be kind of made fun of--if they could even understand it in the first place. It was explained to me that only elders truly understand the whole concept and use that expression...
I read somewhere that it has been traced back to the Buddhist word for suffering, "duh-kha," which in Sanskrit means something like "PervasiveUnsatisfactoriness." And a quote from this book:
"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..." Wabi-Sabi : For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. Miyuki seems really interested in this, she could probably explain it much more easily. "Refined rustic simplicity" is probably as good a catchphrase as any, though.

Personally I don't understand everything first-hand, but I think the Japanese do have certain ownership rights based on their history, particularly Kamakura Zen masters (13th, 14th C) who extolled the whole concept to a level arguably never seen before or since. :eek:
No, they cannot. Mentally and physically they are built differently. Japanese are very sensitive about the intangible feelings influenced by seasons, scenery, sounds and so on
Ghah. Bullshit. You know, the more i learn about japanese people the more i think there is something really wrong whit them. Mentally. It looks to me ( really ) that a lot of them are still living in the past.

This thing about " foreigners can't understand ... " is the most stupid and plane phrase i heard off. I gues japanese people think that they are above other nations. But all they know about other nations is America and America. Anyway the whole idea aboout " they can't understand us. We are to ... " makes me sick
I designed a logo for my friends webpage and she called me "Sabi Wade", I assume this is a good thing but what does she mean by it?

~ Wade
Peaceful, isolated, quiet simplicity, solitude, loneliness, but also the ability to enjoy that loneliness. Wabi sabi is not a concept that, on the average, I would use to describe or apply to modern Japanese people. Some Japanese people have even tried to convince me that a "wabi sabi person"'s face is easily identifiable and looks different from other people's.
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