They're called aesthetics — concepts that answer the question: what is art? There are 9 Japanese aesthetics. They are the basis for Japanese art, fashion, pop culture, music and movies.
1. Wabi-sabi (imperfect)Can you imagine if all the characters in movies were perfect? It's imperfection that makes life interesting. The concept of wabi-sabi is often extended to include impermanent. For example, sakura (cherry blossoms) are more beautiful because they don't last forever.
2. Miyabi (elegance)Miyabi is often translated "heartbreaker". It's all about eliminating anything that's vulgar. Does swearing make a movie better? According to Miyabi — it doesn't.
3. Shibui (subtle)Shibui means simple, subtle or unobtrusive. It means that things are more beautiful when they speak for themselves — when they aren't loud and in your face.
4. Iki (originality)Iki is uniqueness. In many ways, Japanese culture doesn't celebrate uniqueness. As the Japanese proverb goes — the nail that sticks up is pounded down. Therefore, a better translation of Iki is "refined uniqueness".
Iki is the movie character who's a bad-ass with style and grace.
5. Jo-ha-kyu (slow, accelerate, end)Jo-ha-kyu is a tempo that can be translated as — start slowly, accelerate and end suddenly. This aesthetic is used by Japanese traditional arts such as tea ceremony. It's also used widely by Japanese martial arts.
Modern uses include movies, music and advertising.
6. Yugen (mysterious)Yugen states that life is boring when all the facts are known. Something should be held back — the mystery. Every watch a movie that doesn't explain everything? That's yugen.
Where does the smoke come from?
7.Geido (discipline and ethics)Have you ever noticed that Japanese martial arts (and traditional arts) are all about discipline? Ethics and discipline make things more attractive.
8. Ensou (the void)Ensou is a zen concept. It is often represented by a circle. It can mean infinity or nothingness. It's a little hard to explain. You need to spend a lot of time meditating to really get it.
9. Kawaii (cute)Kawaii is cute. Some argue it's a new Japanese aesthetic. Others say kawaii has always been part of Japanese culture. Either way, it has certainly become the most popular Japanese aesthetic in recent years.