The Info List - Mono No Aware

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Mono no aware (物の哀れ), literally "the pathos of things", and also translated as "an empathy toward things", or "a sensitivity to ephemera", is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常, mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.


1 Origins 2 Etymology 3 In contemporary culture 4 See also 5 References 6 External links

Origins[edit] The term comes from Heian period
Heian period
literature, but was picked up and used by 18th century Edo period
Edo period
Japanese cultural scholar Motoori Norinaga in his literary criticism of The Tale of Genji, and later to other seminal Japanese works including the Man'yōshū. It became central to his philosophy of literature and eventually to Japanese cultural tradition. Etymology[edit] The phrase is derived from the Japanese word mono (物), which means "thing", and aware (哀れ), which was a Heian period
Heian period
expression of measured surprise (similar to "ah" or "oh"), translating roughly as "pathos", "poignancy", "deep feeling", "sensitivity", or "awareness". Thus, mono no aware has frequently been translated as "the 'ahh-ness' of things", life, and love. Awareness of the transience of all things heightens appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a gentle sadness at their passing. In his criticism of The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji
Motoori noted that mono no aware is the crucial emotion that moves readers. Its scope was not limited to Japanese literature, and became associated with Japanese cultural tradition (see also sakura).[1] In contemporary culture[edit] Notable manga artists who use mono no aware–style storytelling include Hitoshi Ashinano, Kozue Amano, and Kaoru Mori. In anime, both Only Yesterday by Isao Takahata
Isao Takahata
and Mai Mai Miracle
Mai Mai Miracle
by Sunao Katabuchi emphasize the passing of time in gentle notes and by presenting the main plot against a parallel one from the past. In addition, the Japanese director Yasujirō Ozu
Yasujirō Ozu
was well known for creating a sense of mono no aware, frequently climaxing with a character very understatedly saying "Ii tenki desu ne?" (いい天気ですね, "Fine weather, isn't it?"), after a familial and societal paradigm shift, such as a daughter being married off, against the backdrop of a swiftly changing Japan. In his book about courtly life in ancient Japan, The World of the Shining Prince, Ivan Morris compares mono no aware to Virgil's term lacrimae rerum, Latin for "tears of things".[2] Science fiction
Science fiction
author Ken Liu's short story, "Mono no Aware", won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.[3] Inspired by works like the science fiction manga Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, Liu sought to evoke an "aesthetic primarily oriented towards creating in the reader an empathy towards the inevitable passing of all things", and to acknowledge "the importance of memory and continuity with the past".[4] Nobel- and Booker Prize-winning British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro
ends many of his novels without any sense of resolution. The issues his characters confront are buried in the past and remain unresolved. Thus Ishiguro ends many of his novels on a note of melancholic resignation. His characters accept their past and who they have become, typically discovering that this realization brings comfort and an ending to mental anguish. This can be seen as a literary reflection of the Japanese idea of mono no aware. Films like Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour, Shohei Imamura's Black Rain and Akira Kurosawa's I Live in Fear
I Live in Fear
have all been associated with the term.[5] See also[edit]


Media and written works:

In Search of Lost Time "Ballade des dames du temps jadis" Lost in Translation Last Life in the Universe Samurai Jack

Related terms with no direct translation in English:

Han Lacrimae rerum Memento mori Mottainai Nine Changes Wabi-sabi Ubi sunt Weltschmerz Sehnsucht Saudade


^ Choy Lee, Khoon. Japan: Between Myth and Reality. 1995, page 142. ^ Morris, Ivan I. The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan. 1994, page 197. ^ "2013 Hugo Awards".  ^ Mamatas, Nick. "Q/A With Ken Liu
Ken Liu
(and the return of Intern Kathleen)". Haikasoru. Retrieved 7 April 2013.  ^ http://www.crosscurrents.org/FeleppaSpring2004.htm

External links[edit]

"Lecture notes". Archived from the original on 9 October 2012.  from a Japanese culture class at Ohio State University

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Emotions (list)


Adoration Affection Agitation Agony Amusement Anger Anguish Annoyance Anxiety Apathy Arousal Attraction Awe Boredom Calmness Compassion Contempt Contentment Defeat Depression Desire Disappointment Disgust Ecstasy Embarrassment


Empathy Enthrallment Enthusiasm Envy Euphoria Excitement Fear Frustration Gratitude Grief Guilt Happiness Hatred Homesickness Hope Horror Hostility Humiliation Hysteria Infatuation Insecurity Insult Interest Irritation Isolation Jealousy Joy Loneliness Longing Love Lust Melancholy Mono no aware Neglect Nostalgia Panic Passion Pity Pleasure Pride


Rage Regret Rejection Remorse Resentment Sadness Saudade Schadenfreude Sehnsucht Sentimentality Shame Shock Shyness Sorrow Spite Stress Suffering Surprise Sympathy Tenseness Wonder Worry

World views

Cynicism Defeatism Nihilism Optimism Pessimism Reclusion Weltschmerz

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Death and mortality in art


Carpe diem Consolatio Danse Macabre Death and the Maiden Lamentation of Christ Macabre Memento mori Mono no aware Sic transit gloria mundi Ubi sunt Personifications of death Vanitas


Death mask Elegy Funerary art Funerary text Lament Memorial Post-mortem photography Requiem Tomb Tragedy Wreath



Capuchin Crypt Sedlec Ossuary


The Seventh Seal


Ars moriendi Bardo Thodol Book of Job Book of the Dead Hamlet's soliloquy The Masque of the Red Death


Danse macabre Der Erlkönig Der Tod und das Mädchen Totentanz


Et in Arcadia ego Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May La Calavera Catrina Pyramid of Skulls Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette The Ambassadors


And death shall have no dominion Der Erlkönig Do not go gentle into that good night

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Japanese social concepts and values

Sociocultural values

Honne and tatemae Wa Miai Yamato-damashii Ishin-denshin Isagiyosa Hansei Amae Kotodama Japanese political values


Shibui Iki Yabo Mono no aware Wabi-sabi Yūgen Ensō Miyabi Kawaii Yawaragi (和らぎ)


Gimu (義務) Giri Giri choco Honmei choco Ninjō

Types of people

Senpai and kōhai Freeter Kyōiku mama Reki-jo Net cafe refug