Mono No Aware

Mono No Aware.Mono No Aware

A major focus of this blog is on beauty.  And the beauty ethic governing this blog is one of Mono No Aware* which is a Japanese concept meaning literally a sensitivity to things.


The phrase is derived from the word *aware*, which in Heian Japan meant sensitivity or sadness, and the word mono meaning things, and describes beauty as an awareness of the transience of all things, and a gentle sadness at their passing. It can also be translated as the “ah-ness” of things, of life, and love.


According to mono no aware, a falling or wilting autumn flower is more beautiful than one in full bloom; a fading sound more beautiful than one clearly heard; the moon partially clouded more appealing than full. The sakura or cherry blossom tree is the epitome of this conception of beauty; the flowers of the most famous variety, somei yoshino, nearly pure white tinged with a subtle pale pink, bloom and then fall within a single week. The subject of a thousand poems, the cherry blossom tree embodies beauty as a transient experience.


Mono no aware states that beauty is a subjective rather than objective experience, a state of being ultimately internal rather than external.  In the absence of appreciation, beauty is not beauty at all. And beauty is worthy of its name only when it has been appreciated.


It is my appreciation of beauty- the danklook- which I attempt to communicate in this blog.  It is an appreciation of the work of many photographers who have captured the “ahness” of the moment in black and white.  It is an appreciation of the transformation of the beautiful moment into the momentous.


*This analysis of Mono No Aware is adapted from an essay by John Gillespie.


One thought on “Mono No Aware

  1. Reblogged this on Lady Philospher's Blog and commented:

    It all began when a stranger whom seemed to observe me years ago said “your very mono no aware” I have clung to this concept as the soul of Japan. In searching for my new online friend, Olga* I find it just too easy to re-panini it on my blog!

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