I recall a SAORI kai (gathering) at loop of the loom studio in NYC that I attended several years ago. People had talked about Wabi-sabi as an element of SAORI weaving. I remembered that I was confused by how people understood Wabi-sabi because it didn’t sound the same as my understanding. Then I happened to watch this Japanese TV show called “Cool Japan” a week ago on Youtube. In this show several foreigners who were living in Japan discussed about different aspects of Japanese culture and this particular show focused on Wabi-sabi. It was very interesting. It made me think more deeply about Wabi-sabi, Japanese beauty. It’s true that it’s hard for a person to analyse its own culture because he/she feels that he/she gets it while he/she is living in it and he/she never has had time to define it with words. I felt exactly like that.

Oribe pottery, An example of wabi-sabi


Wikipedia says, Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence , specifically impermanence , the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature .

Then it continues,  Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

Naturally SAORI weaving fits in this category! Misao Jo is clearly influenced by Zen Buddhism principle.

My weaving has still my ego in it in many levels. That’s why I keep pursuing my practice to remove that and keep trying to weave with Mu-shin (absence of self-nature). Misao said SAORI is a weaving with Mushin.

The show is about 44 minutes. I recommend anyone to watch when you have time.

2 thoughts on “Wabi-sabi

  1. Just found your blog: I didn’t know you had one. And this one in wabi sabi was just perfect for me at this time. This winter I read two books on the aesthetic. Immediately I also thought of Misao Jo and remembered she had been in flower-arranging, a zen practice.Everything clicked! Your comments fit.

    Sometimes I get distressed by how something I have dpent time weaving looks but if I play with it, sew it, wash it– manipulate it in some way I am able to see something that I could not have before. Before I had these expectations that clouded my vision: once I am willing to see I can see beyond what my expectations were and accept it as it is. I am learning…Thank you, Mihoko

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