Sabi is a Chaise Longue – Haiga/Haibun – March 28, 2016

What is “sabi”?   Something old, past, demode … something that’s somehow a faded memory like the old plastic chaise longue in the haiga above,  that in its heyday was an object that made someone happy or proud to own it.  I can almost feel the sensation that must have accompanied that first vision of the object … the elation.  Now, so many years have passed.  The chaise longue sits in my son’s garden in Padua, slowly losing it’s lustre as it weathers.  No one remembers who bought it .. the house has changed had many many times over the years as one group of student substitutes another, no one even uses it except the cat. That to me is one meaning of “sabi”.

chaise longue
memories of summer’s days
long forgotten
© G.s.k. ‘16
Well, that is one of the aspects in my opinion of “sabi”.  What does the Encyclopedia Britannica have to say?


  • place in Japanese culture

    Japan: Aesthetics
    …related are the twin ideals of cultivated simplicity and poverty (wabi) and of the celebration of that which is old and faded (sabi). Underlying all three is the notion of life’s transitory and evanescent nature, which is linked to Buddhist thought (particularly Zen) but can be traced to the earliest examples of…
  • poetry of Bashō

    • Bashō
      One term frequently used to describe Bashō’s poetry is sabi, which means the love of the old, the faded, and the unobtrusive, a quality found in the verse

      Scent of chrysanthemums . . .

      And in Nara

      All the ancient Buddhas.

    • relation to tea ceremony

      Sen Rikyū
      …who founded the Japanese tea ceremony. He firmly established the concepts ofwabi (deliberate simplicity in daily living) and sabi (appreciation of the old and faded) as its aesthetic ideals. During his time the teahouse became smaller (from Shukō’s 4 1/2-mat room to a…