Ancient Word of the Day: Shizen

Kyoto riverfront at dusk

Nature is not separate from humankind in Japanese culture.

It is a part of us. And the need to keep the two in harmony can be seen in every aspect of life, from the design of gardens that incorporate the natural landscape, to the design of houses that blur inside and outside by means of translucent paper screens.

In traditional Japanese houses you can close the door without shutting out the sound of the birds singing and the rustle of the breeze.

Shizen n. from Japanese meaning: nature or naturalness.

Shizen is one of the seven principles of zen aesthetics. The idea behind Shizen is that we are all connected to nature, emotionally, spiritually and physically, and the more closely something relates to nature, the more pleasing it is, whether it’s a spoon, or a piece of furniture, or the way a house is decorated. The patterns on a kimono are often of the natural world, so that you can be wrapped in peonies or wisteria, cherry blossoms or chrysanthemums, even whole landscapes of rivers and mountains.

An excellent MTB adventure in Huka Falls, Taupo
A busy river in Taupo. Copyright Content Catnip 2017

Extracted from Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li

Book Review: Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li

[Pictured: Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018]

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

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