Shibiu seems to be a state worthy of pursuit .. living a life of understated beauty (a simplistic description) see below
渋い,?) (adjective), or
渋み,?) (noun), is a
Japanese word which refers to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. Like other Japanese aesthetic terms, such as
can apply to a wide variety of subjects, not just art or fashion.
Originating in the
Muromachi period (1333-1568) as
, the term originally referred to a sour or astringent taste, such as that of an unripe persimmon.
maintains that literal meaning still, and remains the antonym of
However, by the beginnings of the
Edo period (1603-1867), the term had gradually begun to be used to refer to a pleasing aesthetic. The people of Edo expressed their tastes in using this term to refer to anything from song to fashion to craftsmanship that was beautiful by being understated, or by being precisely what it was meant to be and not elaborated upon. Essentially, the aesthetic ideal of
seeks out events, performances, people or objects that are beautiful in a direct and simple way, without being flashy.
Expert singers, actors, potters, and artists of all other sorts were often said to be
; their expertise caused them to do things beautifully without making them excessive or gaudy. Today, sometimes baseball players are even said to be
when they contribute to the overall success of the team without doing anything to make themselves stand out individually.
The concept of
was introduced to the West in 1960, in two special publications of the American magazine
James A. Michener's book
the word 'shibui' is referenced as follows: "The Japanese have a word which summarizes all the best in Japanese life, yet it has no explanation and cannot be translated. It is the word
, and the best approximation to its meaning is 'acerbic good taste'".
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