In Japan, I often find myself lost for words at the beautiful integration of the natural landscape with manmade architecture (be it traditional or modern). It seems to be hardwired into the cultural DNA of the country, right down to the religious worship of nature embodied in Shintoism. Read more
Back when I used to live in Waseda, one of my favourite places to hang out was the quaint neighbourhood of Kagurazaka (神楽坂) which provides a snapshot of old Tokyo with its many narrow alleyways and traditional restaurants. Over the summer I paid a return visit one evening to enjoy the annual Awa Odori (阿波踊り) festival which is held along the main Waseda Dori shopping street. 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
A little less than a year ago I moved to the sleepy neighbourhood of Toritsu-daigaku (都立大学) in south-west Tokyo (15 mins from Shibuya). An old ryokudo (緑道) “green road” lined with cherry blossom trees runs through the centre of the area and at the end of April, almost overnight, it sprang into full bloom. Read more