Have you heard of the Japanese term wabi-sabi?  Wabi-sabi is about finding beauty in the acceptance of imperfection and temporality.  For example, it’s being comfortable with a little peeling paint, worn wood or the wear marks in an old oriental rug.

Some of this comes from the deep-rooted culture of frugality. In Japan there is great virtue in simplicity and economy.  In the west sometimes this idea gets interpreted into a sort of trendy minimalism. While I’m very attracted to the concept of having less ‘stuff,’ the faux-spiritualization of minimalism is off-putting. But wabi sabi is different than minimalism. It encourages repurposing, recycling and taking care of the things you already have.  It can’t be mass produced.


I just got back from a trip to Tokyo.  There I found a perfect example of wabi-sabi at the Tokyo National Museum.  It is a glazed tea bowl that has been named “Bakohan.”  And it’s broken.  What makes this little tea bowl so special to the Japanese, a national treasure even?  In great part, it’s the beauty of the intricate and loving repair made when the bowl cracked centuries ago.  Appropriately, a Japanese word for “beautiful” utsukushii evolved from an original meaning of “being loved.” 

Photo credit – @myrimi

I love the concept of wabi-sabi and find it very freeing, especially when thinking of my home.  There is a commercial version of perfection in the home can feel cold and unwelcoming.  It’s also unattainable or at the least unsustainable.  Living, being loved, and having a purpose — these things leave marks.  Wabi-sabi is about embracing those marks.

This approach isn’t an excuse to not clean your house or see something inadequate through rose-colored glasses. But it is a concept that makes peace with the natural processes of time and age. It’s accepting weather and wear and change. It’s a perspective that finds grace for life’s imperfections. It’s the opposite of what the commercial world is selling us, but I think that’s ok. 

Photo credit @myrimi  for the feature image of handmade Japanese pottery by Babaghuri. One of my favorite people to follow on Instagram.


4 thoughts on “Wabi-Sabi

  1. Love this concept. I think I will also embrace it for me, my body. Be Happy with the crooks and valleys that seem to be appearing! After all, each day we wake to we are on the right side of the grass.


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