Post 1 – Aesthetic Exploration: Wabi Sabi

An aesthetic I found that interested me was wabi-sabi. It is an aesthetic that is notable in Japanese art and Japanese tea ceremonies but has spread around the world. Wabi-Sabi focuses on imperfection and transience, and the aesthetic is sometimes summarized by short phrases such as “flawed beauty” and “perfectly imperfect”[1], [2]. While those phrases might be good for remembering what wabi-sabi is about, there are more complexities to it than those phrases suggest. Wabi and sabi are both Japanese words. Wabi refers to harmony, nature, and simplicity. Sabi referring to impermanence, transience, and serenity with the passing of time. There are may ways to apply wabi-sabi, as a lifestyle it is about moving on and accepting the natural flow of life even with aspects of death and decay[2]. As an aesthetic, Wabi Sabi is about displaying what is naturally imperfect in a way that doesn’t hide Imperfections, but instead harmonizes with them. An example of a Wabi-Sabi aesthetic is using wood with knots or an irregularly shaped cross-section to make a bowl.


Wabi Sabi Wooden Tableware [6]


While Wabi-Sabi today is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, it originates from the Chinese Taoism and Buddhist Zen beliefs. Murata Jukō (村田珠), is responsible for the influence of Wabi-Sabi in Japanese culture when he created the tea ceremony. Unlike tea ceremonious that were a display of grandiose, Murata Jukō’s tea ceremony was simple featuring earthen ceramics and wooden furniture in contrast to the intricate porcelain Chinese tea sets. In the 1480s he first published discourse on the wabi-sabi aesthetic is Murata Jukō’s Letter of the Heart that detailed both his views related to tea as well as the wabi-sabi aesthetic[3].

About a hundred years later, another notable figure in the wabi-sabi aesthetic was Sen no Rikyū (千利休), who is known for bringing the wabi-sabi aesthetic to the Japanese royalty through his teahouse design.

Irregularly shaped ceramic mug crafted by Linda St Marie [7]

Imperfections found in natural objects or naturally aged man-made objects are what wabi-sabi grew from. For example, a mossy fence or a simple worn bowl from a farmer’s house are early examples of what could be considered “wabi-sabi”. Things that are simple and rustic are often things that can be included in the wabi-sabi aesthetic.

Wabi Sabi embraced by a moss covered bench, the moss being marketed a wanted feature, being sold by The Parson’s Nose Antiques. [9]

The aesthetic of wabi-sabi has progressed to become an aesthetic that can be designed rather than just found. It has influenced tea ceremonies, tea gardens and houses, poetry, interior décor, and many other art forms. There are even entire companies dedicated to the wabi-sabi aesthetic, such as one called Wabi Sabi Aesthetic that has collections of décor, furniture, and tableware [4]. In poetry, wabi-sabi has the greatest influence in forlorn haiku style poems such as the one I wrote below:

drops falling
trailing ink
in vivid rivers

Note that the essence of Japanese haiku is to capture details in few words and doesn’t need to be 17 syllables!

An interesting style of art that falls in the wabi-sabi aesthetic is kintsugi, which is the art of visibly repairing items such as chipped pottery and ceramics by filling in chips and cracks with gold plating. This is an example of wabi-sabi because it is not trying to hide the chips by matching the base material to hide blemishes, but instead emphasizes them.


Kintsugi trinket dish made by Kintsugi Generations [5]


Wabi Sabi flooring by John Yarema in the White Horse Inn located in Metamora [8]



[1]         “Wabi-sabi,” Wikipedia. Jan. 14, 2024. Accessed: Jan. 23, 2024. [Online]. Available:


[2]         “Perfectly Imperfect – The Japanese Concept Of Wabi-Sabi,” CulturallyOurs. Accessed: Jan. 24, 2024. [Online]. Available:


[3]         R. G. Woodgate, “A Brief History of Wabi-Sabi,” The Cut-Up. Accessed: Jan. 24, 2024. [Online]. Available:


[4]         “WABI & SABI,” Wabi Aesthetic. Accessed: Jan. 24, 2024. [Online]. Available:


[5]                “Kintsugi Pottery Aqua Kintsugi Trinket Dish, Personalized Gifts, Summer Gifts, Ombre Style, Kintsugi Aqua Blue Trinket Dish,” Kintsugi Generations. Accessed: Jan. 24, 2024. [Online]. Available:


[6]         “Wabi Sabi Wood” Accessed: Jan. 24, 2024. [Online]. Available:


[7]               “Linda St. Marie,” San Diego Potters’ Guild. Accessed: Jan. 24, 2024. [Online]. Available:


[8]             “A Cherry Tree Floor and More Inside a 165-Year-Old Inn | Wood floors wide plank, Flooring, Floors and more,” Pinterest. Accessed: Jan. 24, 2024. [Online]. Available:–351912462220598/


[9]         “A Stylish English Teak Very Mossy Bench,” The Parson’s Nose Antiques. Accessed: Jan. 24, 2024. [Online]. Available:

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • The Wabi-Sabi aesthetic is something that I have observed throughout my life, and it is fascinating to read about its origins from your post! I personally love the cutting boards that I own, and I have now learned that they fit this wabi-sabi aesthetic. I really like how you explain the detail of each word associated with this aesthetic, as well as explain its definition as a whole. The images you include do a great job visualizing wabi-sabi, and you also did an amazing job outlining the aesthetic’s history. I understand how wabi-sabi has influenced cultural tea parties, but I would love to hear more about how it has inspired poetry as you mentioned in the fifth paragraph.

  • Alexis Cisneros
    January 26, 2024 5:29 pm

    I really enjoyed reading about wabi-sabi. You did a great job explaining its meaning even though it can be a little complicated to understand. The background and timeline helped me better understand the aesthetic and appreciate it even more. Kintsugi is something that I’ve heard of and seen online. It is a beautiful concept that more people should follow. The images were a great resource to help further my understanding as well. They showed different examples of the aesthetic. The only thing I would suggest is to have the images between your paragraphs instead of at the end. I think this can help the reader understand the aesthetic as they read along. Overall, it was a great read!


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