Wabi-Sabi–Beauty in Impermanence


A different kind of Grasshopper

When I was in junior high school, we had an assignment to write a poem that I completely forgot about. When the teacher asked for the poem, I took out a piece of paper and quickly scribbled down a haiku. A few weeks later, I was called in front of the class and given a poetry award. My poem was later published in an anthology.

Running through the fields
I see a green grasshopper
Dead under my feet

Recently, Rarasaur prompted us to post something “Wabi-Sabi”:

Wabi-sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture. It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, modest, natural, and mysterious. It can be a little dark, but it is also warm and comfortable. It may be best understood as a feeling, rather than as an idea.” – Mark Reibstein and Ed Young

Being Japanese American, I combined things that already existed to create a something new. (Headphonesu+tapeu leecorda makeu Walkuman) Old poem+new worldview makeu New Post. Hoollay!

To participate in Rarasaur’s “Prompts for the Promptless” click HERE.

Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.

Do you see beauty in impermanence, imperfection, or incompleteness? Please share.


54 comments on “Wabi-Sabi–Beauty in Impermanence

  1. PaulaB says:

    Imperfections are often the very essence of beauty…I believe that. We’d all be pretty boring if we didn’t have our flaws, I think. The knot in a tree someday becomes a bowl, or a beautiful clock. That bend in the tree where the fence once knifed through it’s bark in decades to come is a nest for birds, spiders etal. Without those I think it would be a rather sterile world.

  2. Melanie says:

    That’s a good haiku. Perfection under pressure.

  3. Isn’t that a neat trick of life. You write something and don’t even think about it and bam! It is awesome. Sounds like we had a lot in common back in 11th grade as far as forgetting about homework. Great haiku! Your talents never cease to amaze Kozo!!

    • Kozo says:

      Haha, Jonathan. I used to copy the answers to the odd questions from the back of the book right before class started. One time when we were correcting the homework as a class, the student who was correcting my paper asked, “what if it says, “answers may vary?” It goes without saying that I failed that homework assignment. Thanks for reading and commenting, my friend. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  4. rarasaur says:

    It’s a beautiful haiku and a brilliant example of wabi-sabi. 🙂 Thank you for participating in Prompts for the Promptless, and for inspiring all of us with your versatility! 😀

    • Kozo says:

      Thanks, Rara. I love your new Prompts for the Promptless. It is so much cooler than Daily Prompts.
      I’m embarrassed to say that although I’d heard the term, I did not know what “wabi-sabi” was until I read your post. Thank you for educating me about my own culture. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

      • rarasaur says:

        I learned about the term 10 years ago or so, from the 9-year-old Japanese daughter of one of my cousin’s girlfriends. I was completely smitten. With the term, that is… though his girlfriend was nice, too. 🙂 I finally had an explanation for the style of art and design I prefer, haha! 🙂 It’s uncommonly referenced, though, probably because the word doesn’t fit quite snuggly into English speech patterns. That said, I’m happy to pass my education on. 🙂 *hugs*

  5. Sarah says:

    Hooray!! Sorry…. hoollay! Hugs to you, BBF!

    • Kozo says:

      I’m so glad someone got the Japanese accent. Thanks, Sarah, you are my hero. {{{Hugs}}} from your BBF, Kozo.

      • rarasaur says:

        Haha, I’m also glad someone referenced the accent. It was awesome. I was going to but I got caught up trying to decide if it was one of those things you’re only allowed to say if you’re Asian… and then I thought… well, Indians are subcontinental Asians, so I’m at least half… and then realized I was over-thinking it and skipped the comment. So, Hoollay for Kozo’s post, and Hoollay for Sarah’s enviable carefree-ness!

      • Kozo says:

        ROR (Raff out Roud), Rara. I’m glad my little joke got you over-thinking. Next time, you’ll know that you can say whatever you want, and I will still love you. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  6. Kylie says:

    I love the concept of wabi-sabi. I reflect on it often, especially when it comes to, well, everything.

  7. diannegray says:

    I see impermanence, imperfection, or incompleteness in just about everything. Many years ago I saw a wasp was trying to build a nest on my wall – but it must have had a mis-wired brain (if wasps have brains) because it could only build the very first part of the nest over and over again which looked like smiley faces made of mud. After a few days the entire wall was covered in smiley faces. I felt really sorry for the wasp because it was working so hard and I knew it would never be able to complete it’s task. I left the faces on the wall for a long time to remind myself that imperfections can even be found in things that should come so naturally 😀

    I love your haiku, Kozo, it’s very ‘visual’ 😀


    • Kozo says:

      Maybe that wasp was like Jonathan Livingston Wasp. He wanted to break out of conformity and create something grand. I can’t think of anything grander than a wall full of smiles.
      Thanks for the great story, Dianne. Wabi-Sabi for ever. (Ooops, that’s an oxymoron.) Isn’t blogging fun. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  8. Eileen says:

    I love the concept of Wabi-sabi. It’s always exciting to be introduced to a new view of the world.
    Since nothing is perfect, wabi-sabi beauty would be everywhere. As I write this, there are numerous squirrel nests in the woods outside my windows. They are very untidy and look thrown together and unfit for habitation. But squirrels work incredibly hard and long carrying leaves one at a time up very high in tall trees that sway in the wind. As haphazard as the result looks, it seems to work and the nests appear warm and cozy and have a comforting feeling, even in the winter cold. Would that be wabi-sabi?

    • Kozo says:

      Definitely sounds like Wabi-Sabi to me, Eileen. Why don’t you snap a shot and post it as your Wabi-Sabi entry. Rarasaur will be the final judge.
      I, too, love this new world view. It felt nice to hit publish without having to worry if everything was perfect. If something was unfinished, it was meant to be that way because it is titled Wabi-Sabi. 🙂
      Thanks for sharing. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  9. 1EarthUnited says:

    Hey not bad Kozo, it’s this fly by the seat of your pants pedagogical Macgyverisms that saved our slacker butts back in the day. I had scholastic adventures similar to yours and thought to myself, hey this could serve me in later life.
    Now I realize it’s this spontaneous innovation, action-response, creating in the moment without thought – that’s the message of zen, just living purely in the moment, no past or future.
    Your haiku depicts the essence of zen teaching, be a mirror to reality, only reflect. Don’t introduce mind processes of thought, idea, opinion, prejudice, wish fulfillment, or projections. You just did it, unconcerned where this even came from (out of desperation), & out of your experience – served it’s purpose beautifully.
    You see, even then we had the awareness, and now precious understanding!
    How awesome is that?! ☼ {{{Hugs}}}

    • Kozo says:

      I love how you make me feel so much better about myself. An incident in slacking turns into foreshadowing of awareness and understanding.
      I do have to agree with you, however, this poem was pure reflection. I had nothing to do with it. I bet we can find many instances of this channeling in our lives if we paid attention.
      I was just listening to Eckhart Tolle talking about just being in the moment and allowing spirit/the Universe to flow through us/use us to make changes in the world.
      Working now on staying in the moment, so I can be useful.
      So grateful for your comment, wisdom, and love. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  10. jmgoyder says:

    Imperfection for sure!

    • Kozo says:

      Love the beauty of imperfection, Julie. I can’t imagine loving only perfection. For some reason that seems like a nightmare to me. Thanks for sharing. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  11. Subhan Zein says:

    Great sharing, Kozo, thank you for this, it is great to hear you were given an award an published an anthology. Well done! 🙂 In response to your question, I think the beauty of life is to see the perfection of imperfect things.

    #PS: I’m still typing with my middle fingers. 😉

    • Kozo says:

      You are typing “perfectly” with your imperfect hand, Subhan. 🙂 Hope your hand and body are feeling better. {{{Hugs}}}
      Your comment reminded me of something a yoga teacher used to tell me, “Enjoy your perfection of the now. If you can only touch your knees then that is your perfection of the now. If you can touch the floor then that is your perfection. You are perfect just the way you are.” Made me feel great when I could barely bend forward.
      Thank you for spending the time to type out a thoughtful response with one finger. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  12. Dieu says:

    I love your haiku. It’s so simple and yet has a great impact. I really, really love it. A lot. {{{Hugs}}}

    • Kozo says:

      Wow, Dieu. To get a complement from you about poetry makes my week. I admire your work so much. I was thinking that you “channel” a lot of your poems as well because I often notice intricacies in your poetry that you did not consciously put in the poem. I think of your poetry as something from a higher consciousness. I bet a lot of great poets feel the same way. “Sing heavenly muse…” and whatnot.
      //bow// Thank you so much for your generous complement. ||bow|| {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

  13. raimyd says:

    Beauty in imperfection, yes of course! I see it in you and me and every single person because no one is perfect but we are all beautiful in our own imperfect ways 😉

    • Kozo says:

      Yes, Raimy. Moreover, we are all one, so we are all truly beautiful in all ways. I kind of like the idea of Wabi-Sabi because it makes us focus on the imperfections to see beauty. Imagine if we could do this in our daily lives. We would truly be able to love our enemies. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  14. Sunshine says:

    beauty so fleeting & what is beauty to one may be ugly to another…the wonderful wabi-sabi world…@ first the word made me think, wasabi! *eek* mouth on fire!!
    love your haiku… You so talented. 🙂

  15. Thanks Kozo, I love your posts here is my post for feb http://wp.me/p2zG6L-9T

  16. The Hook says:

    My life has been difficult latley, but I still see the beauty in all things, even suffering.
    Thank you for this.

    • Kozo says:

      I’ve been reading your book lately, and many of the stories could be called Wabi-sabi. You seem to find humor, smiles, and goodness in the oddest places. I think of all the times you make a “controversial” comment to a guest and they reward you with a big tip. That is their way of saying, “you made a positive difference in my day/life, thank you.” Wabi-sabi.
      {{{Hugs}}} Kozo
      If you are feeling down, may I suggest “Silver Linings Playbook”? Made me feel great about my imperfect life.

  17. […] Wabi-Sabi – Beauty in Impermanence (everydaygurus.com) […]

  18. […] Wabi-Sabi – Beauty in Impermanence (everydaygurus.com) […]

  19. […] last post prompted Kozo to invite me to participate a challenge Rarasaur is having on her side of the blogging sphere. So […]

  20. It took a while and I did it…the Wabi Sabi challenge with a new photograph, I hope it still works 🙂

    Thank you for letting me know, Kozo and thank you for prompting me into looking more into this way of seeing the world. Big hugs

  21. […] complete the triad of existential musings I came across today, I refer you to the splendid haiku in this post.  (For my very brief introduction to haiku see this […]

  22. […] Wabi-Sabi – Beauty in Impermanence (everydaygurus.com) […]

  23. Geo Sans says:

    there is beauty

    in the rawness

    the grit

    the rough texture

    of the imperfect


    once I accepted this

    I discovered a new door

    leading to another


    steering me towards

    inner peace

  24. […] Wabi-Sabi – Beauty in Impermanence (everydaygurus.com) […]

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