Aesthetic dimension of Japanese attitude to nature

February 2, 2018

Japanese attitude to nature is based on a peculiar worldview deeply rooted in Shinto with its spiritualization of natural and even man-made objects. Numerous Shinto myths and legends reflect the typical natural conditions in Japan. Territorial isolation of the country, its geographical and climatic features (earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons) influence Japanese attitude toward nature: they perceive it as a living creature. The spirit of Shinto panaestheticism merged with Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian ideas and became an integral part of syncretic aesthetics of Zen Buddhism. In Japan nature has always been the highest manifestation of truth and beauty. There are special rituals admiring cherry and plum blossoms, falling snow, the full Moon in September, flaming maple leaves. Art and literature glorify each of the four seasons. Japanese poetic attitude to nature remains an important feature of Japanese culture. Still now ikebana, bonsai, rock gardens, tea ceremony, haiku, sumi-e are important components of Japanese spiritual life.

Wabi sabi is a special Japanese term that reflects a sense of beauty. This notion defines the essence of many Japanese traditional arts. Wabi are aesthetic, moral norms and rules that emphasize plain, simply type of beauty and meditative, tranquil perception of reality. Wabi is associated with rustic simplicity, freshness, and serenity. Sabi is beauty or serenity that appears with age. People perceive wabi sabi through inner contemplation, meditation, simple life, and togetherness with nature.

The Japanese tea ceremony (also known as The Way of Tea) may be seen as an example of aesthetics of wabi sabi. In Japan it is called chanoyu, chado, sado. Rooted in Zen, The Way of Tea represents the fundamental Zen principles:
Wa (harmony),
Kei (respect),
Sei (purity),
Jaku (tranquility).

The tea ceremony aims at purifying human soul and achieving the feeling of unity, harmony and balance with nature. It is therefore no coincidence that the spiritual heritage of Japan attracts vivid attention and considerable interest.

Tetiana Danylova

Regional Educational Institutions (синій)To Applicants (синій)Press-centre