Wabi-Sabi: The Japanese Philosophy Of Embracing Imperfectionism

In a time of perfectly curated social media feeds, endless barrages of new products, services, and people who can help you become the better you, it’s hard to take a step back and appreciate what we have. How can we be satisfied with what we’ve got if we’re always wanting what’s unattainable? Well, maybe the traditional Japanese ideologies of wabi-sabi can help.

The concept of wabi-sabi, despite being wide and almost impossible to distill, can easily be applied simply to moments of everyday life. Wabi-sabi stretches to everything from the aesthetic, to temples, to classic gardens, and to ceramics — but we’re going to leave that for another time. For now, let’s look at wabi-sabi as lens with which we can use to focus on our everyday life.

What is Wabi-Sabi?

If you’ve come across the term wabi-sabi, chances are it was in relation to Japanese aesthetics, that old teacup worn rugged from years of tea ceremonies. A great example of wabi-sabi is the art of kintsugi, where cracked pottery is filled with gold dusted lacquer as a way to showcase the beauty of its age and damage rather than hiding it.

Originally wabi and sabi were two separate concepts. Evolving from a way to describe the loneliness of a reclusive life living out in nature, the term ‘wabi’ (侘) became a way to express appreciation for the beauty in the elegance of humble, rustic simplicity. ‘Sabi’ (寂) was once a term to describe the way time affects deterioration. It could be the passing of seasons or aging …continue reading