Thursday, February 01, 2007

the japanese have a word for it



Wabi: the imperfection of the handmade. I call it “Amy’s present” and hope she will contemplate its, er, uniqueness in the spirit of Shinto serenity, although somehow I doubt the Japanese were thinking of bunched-up bobbin thread. For the record, switching to plastic bobbins all but eliminated the problem and definitely brought the cursing back within the parameters of PG-13, so I owe my sewing-machine repair guy a kiss. Even though there is nothing wabi about a plastic bobbin.

I’ll have pictures of both my sisters-in-law’s (um, what is the plural possessive of “sister-in-law”? anyone?) presents when we get back from visiting them this weekend. In the meantime, yes, that is a magnetic Japanese syllabary on my refrigerator. Tragically, a couple of characters have gotten lost over the years, including “wa,” so the word shown is actually not wabi but sabi, a companion concept that connotes the patina of age and impermanence. The two words are often linked together to express an aesthetic concept called wabi-sabi.

That concludes our Japanese lesson for the day. Arigato gozaimasu.