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Note: Longtime UNS Member, Sharon Meyers, is currently studying ceramics in Japan for several months. This is a glimpse into her world and journey.

Nine elements define the Japanese arts: 

  • wabi sabi: imperfection 
  • miyabi: elegance 
  • shibui: simplicity 
  • iki: originality 
  • yugen: mystery 
  • geido: discipline 
  • jo ha kyu: movement 
  • enso: wholeness of the infinite 
  • kawaii: cute

Immersed in the daily life that is living in this Kyoto community, I see these elements so clearly as qualities of the art of living, vs. art as decoration or even function. I feel the blessing of perfectly imperfect, even in the delicate porcelain my sensai / master creates, purposely leaving a mark, scar or indent to show wabi sabi as a human quality; the miyabi of young women in kimono on their way to temple; the shibui of a simple, beautifully served cup of tea; the iki of unisex, oversized, hip street fashion; the yugen of a Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine, discovered only by meandering a small unmarked lane; the geido of the tea ceremony, which takes decades to master; the jo ha kyu of dragon ink drawings in honor of this new year; the enso of a circle, drawn in a single brush stroke to signify lettng go of the mind, lettng the body create; and the shared delight in sweet, kawaii mascots of all sorts enjoyed by adults and kids alike. 

The key is the balance of age old tradition with modernity in a harmonious way. My sensai /master teacher describes the art of ceramics as “regenerative art” – art that continues to inspire through visual, yet useful beauty. It is not historic art, meant to be documented, classified and ossified. I am increasingly mindful of these nine elements in my daily disciplines upon awakening, the acceptance of the unknown, movement through the hours with grace, observance of elegance in small things, simplicity in the beauty of nature, originality in what each person creates, and the lightness of being in joy of celebrating “cute” – laughing out loud! 

The work I am doing here is beyond the actual pieces I create, leading to how I look at living life to the fullest. These elements offer time honored guideposts for a life in balance. I hope they inspire you as well … 



P.S. Please click the downloads below to read Sharon's original newsletter and see her photos, as well as her recipe from Garden Chat.