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Wabi-Sabi, Universal Ideal of Beauty

Updated on May 27, 2015

Living Wabi Sabi

Trying to understand Wabi Sabi is trying to understand the aesthetic tastes of Japan and its people. Wabi Sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance and celebration of transience and imperfection. It is a universal ideal of beauty, nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect. Aesthetic, Transience, Impermanence. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete"

Wabi Sabi is simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. "Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature." ~~architect Tadao Ando

Living Wabi Sabi - by Taro Gold

"A universal ideal of beauty, Wabi Sabi celebrates the basic, the unique, and the imperfect parts of our lives. Wabi Sabi is the comfortable joy you felt as a child, happily singing off key, creatively coloring outside the lines, and mispronouncing words with gusto." ~~Taro Gold

Wabi Sabi

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Japanese architect Tadao Ando says, "Wabi-sabi is underplayed and modest, the kind of quiet, undeclared beauty that waits patiently to be discovered. It's a fragmentary glimpse: the branch representing the entire tree, shoji screens filtering the sun, the moon 90 percent obscured behind a ribbon of cloud."

Living Wabi-Sabi

"In learning tea, we're constantly reminded that every meeting is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to enjoy good company, beautiful art, and a cup of tea. We never know what might happen tomorrow, or even later today. Stopping whatever it is that's so important (dishes, bill paying, work deadlines) to share conversation and a cup of tea with someone you love-or might love-is an easy opportunity to promote peace. It is from this place of peace, harmony, and fellowship that the true wabi-sabi spirit emerges."

-architect Tadao Ando

What is Wabi-Sabi?

"The two word phrase "wabi sabi" originated in the Japanese language but has made its way into English largely because English lacks an adequate equivalent.

Even in Japanese the exact meaning of the phrase is difficult to pin down. It is first and foremost a beauty seen in aged or worn objects; objects that contain deep patterns, patina, character, or qualities of authentic individuality. "

~~Richard R. Powell

"Japanese world view is nature-based and concerned with the beauty of studied simplicity and harmony with nature."

Wabi Sabi - by Semyon Kobialka

"The sound is unique, musicianship outstanding, vocals are warm and pleasing, lyrics are both light-hearted and poetic."

"He plays a CELLO like a slap bass guitar -- which creates a completely unique sound in these recordings."

Creating a wabi-sabi home

Wabi-sabi is not a decorating "style" but rather a mind-set. There's no list of rules; we can't hang crystals or move our beds and wait for peace to befall us. Creating a wabi-sabi home is the direct result of developing our wabigokoro, or wabi mind and heart: living modestly, learning to be satisfied with life as it can be once we strip away the unnecessary, living in the moment. You see? Simple as that.

The Japanese view of life embraced a simple aesthetic that grew stronger as inessentials w

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Wabi Sabi on Rice Paper

I hope this information on Wabi-Sabi was helpful for you. Did you learn something new?

What Do You Think of Wabi Sabi? - I love hearing from my readers.

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    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Midwest

      @Pat Goltz: patgoltz, glad to help! :-)

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 

      5 years ago

      If we can forget the Feng Shui and the Zen, I can relate to Wabi Sabi. In many ways, I share the same aesthetic. I had never heard of Wabi Sabi. Thank you for the information.

    • cdevries profile image


      7 years ago

      I think this is a powerful idea... As a designer I lean towards the asymmetric, the unique, the character-filled rather than to symmetry and perfection, so this idea really appeals to me.

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Midwest

      @garrekds: Thanks, garrekds!

    • garrekds profile image


      7 years ago

      The Silver Pavilion (ginkakuji) in Japan was built during the period when Wabi Sabi was popular. I enjoyed this lens!

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Midwest

      @sanamionline: Sanami, thanks for saying hello!

    • sanamionline profile image


      7 years ago

      One of the things I live and work by...

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Midwest

      @Zen Automat: Webnh, thanks for visiting!

    • Zen Automat profile image

      Zen Automat 

      8 years ago from New Hampshire

      one of my favorite things to think about... thanks for putting together this lens..

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest

      @anonymous: Isn't it fun! Thanks for visiting!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Pat, I've never heard of Wabi Sabi before but it resonates with me. Thank you for an enlightening journey into the perfection of imperfection!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh what a wonderful place/feeling - Wabi Sabi is the comfortable joy you felt as a child, happily singing off key, creatively coloring outside the lines, and mispronouncing words with gusto. I loved that!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I feel thankful that I ventured onto this lens at the end of a very full and tiring Saturday. Thank you for the uplifted feeling this lens brought me!

    • SerenityPrayerG profile image


      9 years ago

      Lovely! Thanks for sharing! :-)

    • grandma deal profile image

      grandma deal 

      9 years ago

      I just learned of wabi-sabi at For more in-depth info, I did a search here at Squidoo and found this lens. I am fascinated by the concept of wabi-sabi. Thanks for explaining it more fully. This student was ready, and thus, the teacher appeared.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I had never heard of this before! Real neat lens...and I learned something new!Keep up the great work Pat!Greetings from GermanyTrixi

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Aloha! Beautiful images and interesting lens! 5-stars. Please stop by to say hello!

    • judithmurphy profile image


      11 years ago

      Thankyou for a great lens on wabi-sabi. I had not heard the term before but it is on similar lines as my lenses, especially Teaism.


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