Like many Anglophone Western-trained philosophers, I had only the vaguest idea of Japanese aesthetic principles, let alone their complexity. I associated Japanese aesthetics with appealing things like the minimalist architecture and concise interiors filled with negative space, the fashion-forward, edgy couture that I encountered in the sensual origami of an Issey Miyake skirt, and a meticulously assembled plate, colored with slices of sushi. In contrast to this elegance, I also noticed the ubiquitous Hello Kitty and more cloying tokens of kawaii (cuteness), such as the disturbing Lolita fashion subculture. What is important here is that all of these turn up in everyday life, which the Japanese see as worthy of aesthetic appreciation. The principles of Japanese aesthetics also govern persons, their bearing, their actions, their erotic nature, and their interactions with others. Although the principles are too numerous to probe here, even this brief discussion shows how they enrich life and art in the West, as well as in contemporary Japan.  (…to read more)

Carol Steinberg Gould
Mara Miller

Editor’s Note: Carol Steinberg Gould and Mara Miller collaborated on this article, which is presented in alternating sections by each author, as indicated/ The American Society for Aesthetics ©2017

courtesy of  The American Society of Aesthetics ©2017