Monday, August 30, 2010

Mono no aware

One of the most difficult aspects to living in another country is letting go of your old habits and routines.

Contesting the known self.

But with this challenge comes an opportunity for growth.

An idea that is helping me digest and learn from the emotional ups and downs of going through this process during my first week in Japan is the Japanese concept of mono no aware:

“Mono no aware (物の哀れ mono no aware, literally ‘the pathos of things,' also translated as ‘an empathy toward things,’ or ‘a sensitivity of ephemera’) is a Japanese term used to describe the awareness of mujo or the transience of things and a bittersweet sadness at their passing. The term was coined in the eighteenth century by the Edo period Japanese cultural scholar Motoori Norinaga.”

Beautiful, wonderful things in life become even more so because they are transient.

A sunset:

Butterflies perched on flowers:

A delicious cup of green tea:

A person’s shadow:

The way the light hits the water in the afternoon:

Poking around on the internet for a better understanding of mono no aware, I came across this quotation:

“Truly, in the absence of appreciation, beauty is not beauty at all. And beauty is worthy of its name only when it has been appreciated.”

Mono no aware means a celebration of impermanence rather than a fight against it.

For an entertaining and moving contemplation of mono no aware and other Japanese philosophies, check out this fantastic documentary:

-Brenna Fitzgerald

Cod Fish Pond at Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Japan