Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic (philosophy of beauty) that celebrates the imperfect and impermanent.
It's considered the most important Japanese aesthetic.
Which temple is more appealing?A grandfather and grandson built two almost identical temples in Kyoto: Kinkakuji (Golden Temple) and Ginkakuji (Silver Temple).
As the name suggests, Kinkakuji (Golden Temple) is covered in gold leaf. According to wabi-sabi fans its ugly because it's too perfect.
The builders of Ginkakuji (Silver Temple) intended to cover it in silver leaf. A civil war ruined their plans — the temple was left forever unfinished. Today, it's considered a classic example of wabi-sabi beauty.
ImpermanentGood wabi-sabi should have a sad, nostalgic feel.
Sakura falling are often considered wabi-sabi.
HaikuGood haiku have a wabi-sabi quality. They're often melancholy and feel unfinished.
In spring apricot blossoms bloom first.
I was looking for the blooming alone in twilight
~ Yamanoueno Okura
Looking at the mountain sakura in mist
I miss a person who looks at the sakura
~ Kino Tsurayuki
Over the wintry forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow
Tea CeremonyWabi-sabi is important to Japanese tea ceremony. It often can be seen in the tea house itself.
Good tea ceremony pottery is usually wabi-sabi.
Wabi-Sabi in the WestWhen Japanese art first made its way to Europe in the 1860s it changed everything.
Great European artists could instantly appreciate Japanese aesthetics. Many incorporated it into their work. Today, it's hard to calculate the influence this has had.
Just Because It's Imperfect Doesn't Make It Wabi-SabiWabi-Sabi has a certain je ne sais quoi (French: literally ~ "I don't know what"). It's impossible to explain with words. You need to develop a feel for it.