Wabi (侘:わび)・Sabi(寂:さび)・幽玄(Yugen)


Wabi (侘:わび)・Sabi(寂:さび)is one of the sense and virtue of beauty in Japan.

In general, Japanese people love things that are quiet and are regarded as Wabi and Sabi.
Wabi and Sabi have different meanings, but in modern times they are often grouped and spoken together.

Here, I will explain the basic concepts of Wabi and Sabi.
Furthermore, these concepts are based on the fundamental elements of Yugen.


Wabi (侘:わび)

 (Gin-Kaku, Kyoto, Japan)

Wabi refers to the concepts of finding beauty in simplicity and frugality.

In the book “The Book of Tea” by Okakura Koso (Tenshin), he states that imperfection is a good indication of “Wabi”.
Through this book, the concept of “Wabi” was spread to the world.

“The Book of Tea” by Okakura Koso (Tenshin)

For example, in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, people chose a plain setting and use plain tools to carry out the ceremony.


Sabi is the concept of finding beauty in things that are changing or fading.
In other words, it is feeling the depth and richness in calmness

Essentially, Sabi shows how it has deteriorated over time.
Japanese people have a consciousness to find beauty in the old state.

The conflicting elements of fallen and brilliant interact with each other in one world and these elements activate the world.

Wabi can be the contradictory beauty that arises from the movement of the mind that does not stop moving.

For example, the old stones covered with moss are often used in Japanese gardens based on the concept of Sabi.


Yugen (幽玄)

Ugen is one of the basic ideas of Japanese culture in various art areas such as literary arts, paintings, performing arts, and architecture.

Some people may think that Yugen refers to the concept of mysterious uncertainty that is communicated from beyond death, an ultimate eternity.

Yugen has multiple meanings such as

  • the taste of things that cannot be measured or estimated because of its deepness
  • things that are tasteful, tall, kind and elegant.



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