Japanese Aesthetics

concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.
“the pictures give great aesthetic pleasure”
synonyms: artistic, tasteful, in good taste; More
noun: aesthetic; plural noun: aesthetics; noun: esthetic; plural noun: esthetics
a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.
“the Cubist aesthetic”

or simply, aesthetic means beauty. Japan, for me, owns one of the most fascinating cultures in the world. When you compare it’s culture with the other country’s, you can really see the contrast. Like for example, the known Japanese kimono and the Indian Sari. Both clothes come in different styles but some things are just dominant about the clothes. The Japanese kimono is obviously made out of silk and is mostly patterned with fresh flowers. It comes with a belt that my vary differently in color and designs. Come to think of it, what does it ever symbolize? Does the flowers in the kimono give significance or meaning to an object? Does the silk used in the kimono signify a sign or an event? However, the Indian Sari is made of different types of textiles. The clothing is really exotic, I mean, the bright colors. I’ve noticed that the sari ranges in colors that are powerful and very heavy to the eyes. In addition, they love to add gold, glittery patterns that captures our curiosity. Some sari also shows a part of skin but not that revealing.

Getting back to Japan, there is a fine saying on the Japanese aesthetics: “Imperfection is beauty, perfection is dead”. The saying really captivates my thought. I now know why they would rather pick scarred pearls that finely textured ones. I already know why they appreciate seeing stained, faded statues than the famous gold ones. There are 9 principles of the Japanese aesthetics:

1. Wabi-Sabi (imperfect)- Perfection is boring. Imagine everything in the world is perfect, then everything would be boring. Do you know what makes the Cherry Blossom trees more beautiful for the Japanese? It’s because it’s beautiful and it doesn’t last forever. Everything will wither, everything will come and go, it’s beauty for the Japanese.

2. Miyabi (elegance)- Elegance is beautiful. Elegance is all about eliminating what’s vulgar. This is quite synonymous to the Japanese kimono. The designs (the birds, the flowers), those designs are a symbolism of elegance. Japanese don’t want plain, drab and tasteless. They want grace and style.

3. Shibui (subtle)- Even though it’s quite distasteful, let me put Lady Gaga in the context.She gets crazier and crazier every second of the lifetime. Because of that, it sometimes turns out to be scandalous and a little bit ugly already. For Japanese, simplicity is beauty. Let things speak for themselves without wanting to capture too much attention.

4. Iki (originality)- An original copy is worth more than a fake for the Japanese. It means having a creative mind without copy pasting or plagiarizing ideas. Originality is thinking like “I will make a movie about swans with guns”. I mean, swans are known for gracefulness so when will you ever catch them holding a gun and killing people? Wait, what.(I’m starting to think that’s a really stupid idea, though).

5.Jo-ha-kyu (slow, accelerate, end)- this term is widely used in terms of tea ceremonies. Have you ever watched or been in a tea ceremony? Everything is so slow motion there, I mean like, “Come on, give me my tea already”. But the process moves so graceful as if it were on a beat. For me, tea ceremony is beautiful and it is an art of Japan.

6. Yugen (mysterious)- Mysteriousness is also shown in Japanese literature like the mystery case our teacher gave us written by a Japanese. Japanese are fond on mystery tactics because they love their mind getting confused and they want a thrill to the tip of their toes. Japan is a very mysterious place, based on my trip and yeah. You’ve got to deal with the fact.

7. Geido (discipline and ethics)- Discipline in Japanese can be shown in different scenarios. Like martial arts. It takes patience and discipline to master a skill. You’ve got to kick your comfort zone out once in a while and do your aims. This also shows because Japanese are very very very disciplined people and there is no irony or exaggerating in that fact.

8. Ensou (the void)- I don’t really know how to explain this further because you need to spend a lot of time meditating before you fully understand “Ensou”. But Ensou is a zen concept. It is often represented by a circle. It can mean infinity or nothingness.

9. Kawaii (cute)- Yes. This famous term that rings a bell in this generation. I’m pretty sure you know what Kawaii is for Japanese. The big eyes, the cosplay, the sad but not sad pouts, the fake glittery lashes…

So those are probably some (JUST SOME) of the Japanese aesthetics because they truly believe in more than just 9 and again, because they have a unique and fascinating culture. I learned from the Japanese aesthetics that perfection is not important nor attainable because life is meant to be interesting, with imperfections and mistakes.

Arigato Gozaimas!


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