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7 Japanese Aesthetic Principles: Wabi Sabi on jewelry

on November 14, 2023

Wabi-sabi is a term that originates from Taoist philosophy in China during the Song dynasty in the year 960 to Zen Buddhism in 1,279, and it has no literal translation. It is a complex concept that can be described as a fundamental part of Japanese aesthetics, encompassing ancient ideals of beauty and standards of good taste.

7 Japanese Aesthetic Principles: Wabi Sabi on jewelry

Wabi-sabi is a word that cannot be defined in Japanese culture and is used to refer to a way of viewing life. It is about seeking beauty in imperfection and appreciating natural objects and the power of nature. The principles of this Japanese aesthetic emphasize simplicity, asymmetry, minimalism, transcendent beauty, freedom, and serenity.

The aesthetic in Japanese can be descripted by 7 principles, and every one of these serve as a source of inspiration in jewelry:



It is the aesthetic principle of irregularity or asymmetry that suggests balance and equilibrium in compositions as a whole. For example, in painting, the enso or "Zen circle" is drawn in an incomplete form to represent imperfection as a part of life, and in design, the balance is both asymmetric and dynamic.

Zen's aesthetics have allowed the internalization and spiritualization of nature itself, which is composed of balanced beauty relationships in the midst of asymmetry. Fukinsei is irregularity, imbalance, inequality, and odd counts, as a response that denies perfection. Nature is not perfect or symmetrical.

Asymmetries or irregularities in these cases:



It refers to the Japanese aesthetic principle of simplicity and zero excess. Within Wabi-sabi, everything is expressed in a simple, natural, and unembellished manner, without adding terms that adorn or distort reality. This clarity is achieved by excluding the non-essential.

Kanso is simplicity and the elimination of all that is excessive. It is focusing on what truly matters and setting aside anything that may bring confusion and sadness. The Wabi-sabi aesthetic is centered on avoiding complications. It can be defined as a preference for simplicity, especially in designs. The popular philosophy of "less is more" encapsulates what Kanso embodies.

In some regions you can see this principle reflected as the zen aesthetic.


Koko represents the essence of natural beauty that has not been altered. It highlights organic materials, imperfections in forms, and textures that evoke the fleeting and raw nature of life. This principle celebrates all that is unique and authentic, valuing the importance of living in harmony with the natural world and our surroundings, embracing simplicity and celebrating imperfections.

To the aesthetic in Japan, Koko is reflected in various artistic expressions such as ceramics, gardening, and writing. In ceramics, the beauty of cracks that are not repaired or hidden is appreciated, recognizing them as unique and authentic.


It is the principle of nature, where there are no pretensions or artifices. It is reflected, for example, in the spontaneous but not accidental nature of the Japanese garden, highlighting originality. Likewise, it refers to naturalness and inherent beauty, manifesting everything that Wabi Sabi's aesthetics gather from the natural environment.

For the Japanese, nature is a source of inspiration for the arts and artistic activities, but not raw nature; it's nature that conveys intention or purpose.

This mysterious aesthetic reflects the profound respect they have for nature and their belief that everything is connected, so they seek inspiration in the natural world to reflect the beauty and harmony of the natural world in art.


Yugen is a spiritual and philosophical concept of Japanese aesthetics that is often difficult to explain in words. It relates to transcendent beauty and elements that surpass traditional understanding and carry a touch of mystery.

The Yūgen meaning is about contemplating everything that happens between the known and unknown world with a great capacity for wonder.

This fundamental principle explains that life would be very dull if everything were known, and that every opportunity to contemplate things brings with it the experience of discovering new or hidden ideas. It is the feeling of subtle and mysterious beauty that lies beneath what is superficially visible and is waiting to be discovered.


Datsuzoku is related to creativity and individuality that does not adhere to or conform to imposed social expectations. It is an aesthetic principle that encourages people to break free from traditional conventions to live in the environment without prejudices, and is related to independence and impulsiveness.

In Japanese aesthetics, Datsuzoku stands out as a way to escape the limitations imposed by society and live a freer and authentic life. This is reflected in culture, from design, such as houses, to the smallest details like a floral arrangement. Under this principle, the aim is to reject conformity in all aspects of life.


It refers to serenity, tranquility, and stillness. Seijaku is about finding that sense of calm amid the turbulence of life and is a fundamental principle for the Japanese, reflected in traditional situations and practices like meditation and the tea ceremony.

This specific aspect emphasizes the importance of finding peace and balance amidst everyday chaos. It is not only about a physical state but, like Wabi-sabi in general, it works on mentality and spirituality because finding peace outside requires being at peace with oneself.

At Albert Hern, you can find jewelry that relates to the philosophy of Japan aesthetic or Wabi-sabi, emphasizing simplicity and transcendent beauty with pieces like these:


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