4 Japanese Concepts That Inspire Our Daily Lives
The Japanese have long been recognized for their concepts that reveal the secrets to living a simple and meaningful life. These concepts range from philosophies into aesthetics, ethics, design and morality. When we travel we may not understand the language of a country, but understanding her life philosophies can be a fascinating insight into a culture’s soul. Here are 4 Japanese concepts that have inspired our daily lives.
01 | MOTTAINAI – TOO GOOD TO WASTE
I spent my childhood with my grandmother who often told me “When we die, we go to the mountains. That’s why a shroud has to be made of hemp. Hemp is planted from our soils and for that reason, it returns to that soil easily.
Fabric or cloth is something that protects your body. You cannot waste even a bit. It is too good to waste.”- Chuzaboro Tanaka
‘Mottainai’ is an ancient Buddhist term that translates into having full respect for the resources available, to not waste these resources and to use them with a sense of gratitude. Mottainai is closely associated with the conservation practices that are recognized in the West as the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – with a fourth R added: respect. The respect practice stems from the Shinto belief that objects have souls (possibly those of one’s own ancestors) and therefore should not be discarded.
02 | MONO NO AWARE – THE PATHOS OF THINGS
This concept describes having empathy towards things and their inevitable passing; a keen awareness of impermanence accompanied with a gentle, wistful sadness that their disappearance is the reality of life.
Acknowledgement of the passing of time, along with the importance of memory as a conduit to the past and future are also part of this idea.
Mono no aware teaches us to seek beauty and awareness in the transient. It allows us to notice the fleeting beauty of time and to realize that nothing is permanent and that we should take life a step at a time, appreciating everything that passes.
03 | SHIBUI – PERFECTED SIMPLICITY AND SOPHISTICATION
"Shibui" is used to describe an aesthetic principle that values simplicity and the subtle beauty of minimalism. The seven essential factors of shibui are simplicity, implicitness, modesty, silence, naturalness, everydayness, and imperfection. Shibui gives space for us to recognize the beauty in simplicity and to acknowledge life without superfluous add-ons. Sometimes things are as beautiful as it is.
04 | WABI SABI – THE BEAUTY OF IMPERFECTION
Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic and worldview accepting transience and imperfection, embracing a beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.
Derived from Buddhist teachings, its central tenets are around asymmetry, simplicity, asperity, and appreciation of the inherent integrity of natural objects and materials.
Implementing the concepts of Wabi-Sabi teaches us that life is not about obtaining perfection but celebrating imperfection. Life is not always a perfect circle.
FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people and organizations and so we set out to tell stories that highlight global initiatives, innovation, community development and social impact. You can read more stories like this when you subscribe.