Is Japanese culture a symbol of simplicity?

The word “Zen” is originally from Japanese. I’m not sure very much in what context American and people from other places use that word ¬†though, I feel it simply means just “being simple”.
Originally, the word “Zen” is a school of Buddhism, and we usually use the word in that meaning in Japan. I think very little Japanese people use that word to mean simplicity.

For example, I love a very famous blog zenhabits by Leo Babauta, but I have never seen Leo told about Buddhism there as far as I know. Now zen for American seems to be a kind of life style esteeming simplicity. (In fact, Leo writes another famous blog ““, which specialized for minimalism.)
As a Japanese, here I would like to describe my opinion on simplicity in Japanese culture.

wabi-cha: Sen no Rikyu

I believe the roots of simplicity in Japanese culture came from Sen no Rikyu. The tea ceremony style wabi-cha, which Rikyu completed, esteems beauty in simplicity, rustic and frugality. These spirits have been seen in Japanese people, at least previous generation of mine.

Complexity behind Simplicity

Nowadays, as you know, Japan is a very complex place that is mixed with traditional culture, cyber culture and otaku culture. You may feel unhappy that Japan has lost good old simplicity.
However, don’t forget that Japan originally has been a part of Asia, where is intricate, mixed and full of kitsch by nature.

Japanese often think in very complex logic. Sometimes “yes” means “no” depending on context and situation. You have to take a hint with his answer “yes”. You may see that conversation between two Japanese people as communicating with using telepathy.

Please note that as for Japanese culture and spirits simplicity and intricacy don’t conflict. Behind the simplicity, or zen, seen in Japanese culture is hidden something complex.

Complexity made of Simplicity

As I always tell, what I’m working for is to create something complex with amount of simple stuff.
One of the clues is fractal geometry. Repetition of milions of inorganic shapes creates an organic shape.
Another example of clues may be emergence. Summation of very simple rules figures another complex behaviour.

The vector that creating complexity made of simplicity might be opposite direction with complexity behind simplicity seen in Japanese spirit. I would like to be fully aware of Japanse spirit.


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