For the past few years I’ve enjoyed the spectacular autumn leaves in Tokyo by exploring the city’s many pristine parks but for the prior season I decided to head out of the metropolis to Okutama (奥多摩), a mountainous region located west along the Tama River. Read more
For a few weeks every summer in Japan the streets of neighbourhoods around the country come alive with the sights, sounds and smells of traditional festivals (matsuri 祭) usually sponsored by a local shrine or temple. Notable matsuri often feature processions including elaborate floats (dashi 山車), which are pulled through the town, accompanied by performers and musicians. Read more
Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of thing unconventional.
While sitting beneath the cherry blossoms at a typical Hanami (“flower viewing”) party in Japan it’s easy to forget that behind the alcohol-fueled revelry you’re actually taking place in a very particular form of appreciation centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.
Aesthetic ideals are central to Japan’s cultural identity and the Japanese language has all sorts of fancy words for describing our feelings towards how we perceive the world but underlying them all is the notion of wabi-sabi (侘寂). Read more
Back in 2013, shortly after I had moved to Japan, the language school I was attending at the time took us on a class outing to Yumenoshima Park (夢の島) for a sports day (as if we were 10 years old…). Literally meaning “Dream Island”, Yumenoshima Park was built on land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay using waste landfill. Read more