Wabi Sabi – The Art of Impermanence

In Buddhist philosophy and doctrine, concepts such as transience, imperfection, incompleteness, are all manifestations of the universal law which rules the flow of life. It’s the principle of change, the awareness and acknowledgement that nothing is eternal and nothing is perfect. Wabi Sabi is the quintessence of aesthetics, the idea of beauty closely linked to the imperfections of growing old. A defect, a sign left by the passing of time: this is the symptom of life’s existence. Wabi Sabi is the serenity and the beauty of knowing that everything in this world has life.

Japanese gardens
Karesansui, meaning “dry garden” in Japanese, is better known in the West as “Zen garden”. Its deep symbolism unites the age-old Japanese art of gardening and Zen philosophy. The elements, water, stones, and plants, represented by gravel and rocks, are suspended, each with its own value, inside the main element, emptiness. Ocean water is represented by pebble rivers; stone is the symbol of all which exists in the natural world; rocks are a mother tiger with her cubs swimming towards a dragon, and are part of the Kanji (character used in Japanese writing) for “heart and mind”.

Toufuku-ji Temple Zen Gardens

East Garden
Seven cylindrical stones are arranged in the moss field so as to represent the Big Dipper in Ursa Major. These stones were originally foundation stones used for another part of the temple.

 

West Garden
It is composed of moss and azalea-shrubs trimmed in a checkered pattern inspired by Chinese “Seiden”. This makes it quite special, especially if compared with the southern garden’s Zen-style sobriety.

 

North Garden
Large square stones alternated with moss are distributed in checkered patterns. This garden faces the “Tsuten” bridge and the Sengyokukan valley, known for its beautiful autumnal colours.

 

South Garden
This garden is the most contrived and is composed of four large rocks in a sea of sand symbolizing the four islands Eiju, Horai, Koryo, and Hojo, and five moss-covered stones.

 

Ikebana
Literally means “living flowers”. Known in the past as Kadō, ikebana is the japanese art of flower arrangement. The structure of the composition is based on a triangle delineated by three main points. The longest twig ideally reaches for the heavens; the shortest one symbolizes earth; in between there is man, represented by the mid-span twig. And just like these three elements, flowers and twigs must also live in natural harmony.

The tea ceremony
Tea is probably the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Yet there can be a right way and a wrong way of drinking tea. The tea ceremony (cha no yu) represents one of Zen culture’s main traditions in Japan, a country where tea has become part of the national identity. This socially significant tradition is also deeply spiritual, with a profound aesthetic value expressed in the complex ritual of the ceremonial. This isn’t a refined way of drinking, it is a true philosophy of life, based on the search for inner peace and the serenity of meditation.

Tea House & Pottery
Wabi-Cha is the tea ceremony style associated to the Zen tradition. It conveys an aesthetic ideal of poverty and simplicity of the ritual, which is also expressed by the extreme sobri-ety of both the venue and the equipment used to serve the beverage.

Bonsai
A tree in a pot. As the name itself says, it’s the art of growing miniature trees, shaping the growth process in form and size but always respecting the plant’s life. This age-old art form was born in China, where cultivating plants in small pots in order to recreate the surrounding nature was a common practice since the second century. The oldest living bonsai are hundreds of years old. From China, miniature potted trees were exported to Japan since the 16th century. Today, the art of bonsai has definitively reached a worldwide following.

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