Wabi Sabi Emotions: Imperfect Impermanence

Jan 28, 2009 by


If you ask a Western individual what Wabi Sabi is, her definition will likely describe antique furniture and rusty patinas.   Interestingly, ask a Japanese person the same question, and her answer will focus on emotions, such as the momentary peace of solitude when a shadow is cast against the floor, or those impermanent, quiet moments in the rain as rays of light begin to penetrate the clouds.

This Light Locations room, with its time-aged moody and peeling walls, fleeting yet powerful light, gives the emotion of beautiful impermanence, which is a fundamental element of Wabi Sabi. While it may not qualify under Soetsu Yanagi’s explanation that Wabi Sabi celebrates “the mellow beauty that time and care impart to materials,” it does exude the emotions of fleeting moments that are hard to capture and quantify.

Do you share the search for the peaceful, humble, and fleeting feelings of Wabi Sabi?

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  1. Mmmmm. Yes. I want my home to be peaceful, calming, and timeless. I love the idea that the goal of a house should be to evoke specific emotions, rather than just an aesthetic effect.

  2. I’m so far from that Wabi Sabi level…I have to have a major house cleaning and garage sale!

  3. Stacy, I feel you lady!

    I love the light in this room and totally agree with a home evoking emotion. I always gravitate to old, tired and worn homes because they have so much character. Maybe some of that “emotion” comes from the history associated with them. I love thinking about who lived there and what they were like. Like above: how did that room get that way?

  4. This is such a nice post. You’ve give me a deeper appreciation for Wabi Sabi.

  5. What a lovely post, I mean really lovely! Ahh, I love coming her soooo much! I never had the words until you wrote them… Yes, I guess this is what attracted me to our 1850’s farmhouse with hand hewn beams and rough originalwide floor planks. This is what I strive to attain, but having two children and a busy household means that the stack of laundry often gets in the way of peace and serenity:)

  6. Grace

    I am totally on the same page as you lovely ladies! Wabi Sabi is still a goal for me, not yet a full reality. Progress not perfection, right? Thank goodness Wabi Sabi celebrates imperfection!

  7. yes, i definately share in the search!! and i am obsessed with the light locations site too :)

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