Japanese aesthetics

My Japanese tutor lent me a book Keys to the Japanese Heart and Soul (Kodansha, 1996) which explains various Japanese cultural concepts. One chapter was about Japanese aesthetics, something that I have grown to appreciate during our trips there. Concepts that I especially like include:

Ma (間) – Negative space, a pause, silence, blank area of a canvas. Something designers might call white space, but more than that.

Sabi (寂) – Beauty in desolation and loneliness.

Shibui (渋い) – Subtle and moving beauty, as opposed to gaudiness.

The book has other chapters dealing with Japanese society, religion, folklores and more. I’m hoping to find out more about some of the mythical creatures mentioned in the book, especially the very strange kappa.

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