Before I went to Japan, I thought I was a bit of a perfectionist. But during my first summer in Kyoto, when my conversation partner pulled out her agenda to pencil in our next session in minuscule handwriting that only a mouse could read, I realized I had a long way to go.
As I'm studying Japanese traditional and contemporary design at a Japanese university, I'm fortunate to have access to some amazing resources to learn about Japanese aesthetics. For one, my supervising professor is well versed in both traditional Japanese aesthetic theory (I suppose being the son of a professional calligrapher does that to you!) and contemporary product design, having worked as an industrial designer for many years. In addition, our design campus has a wonderful library with volumes in both Japanese and English, so I can read about Japanese design in both languages to get the full picture (although I'll admit it's quite challenging to read about something so ethereal in a second language). I feel so lucky to get to learn about one of my passions, Japanese design, straight from the source.
Seeing as I've had the opportunity to get a pretty good understanding of the topic, I thought I would explain some Japanese aesthetic principles in a blog post. For this post, I'm just going to stick to those principles which I find most interesting and have the firmest grasp on. I've organized them into three categories - emptiness, mystery, and the passage of time. Well, I'll get right to it!