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Japan's Frames of MeaningA Hermeneutics Reader$
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Michael F. Marra

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834609

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834609.001.0001

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Concealment and Brittleness

Concealment and Brittleness

(p.173) Chapter Five Concealment and Brittleness
Japan's Frames of Meaning

Michael F. Marra

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter introduces the Japanese terms yugen and sabi. The compound yugen is made of two Chinese characters: yu means “faint” and also “deep”; gen indicates the black color, something far away, and an occult principle. Thus, yugen is something well beyond the reach of man's immediate perception and understanding, since it is too far for humans to reach. Meanwhile, the word sabi indicates “the brittleness and eventual disappearance of an original strength or form.” Related to sabi is the verb kamisabu, which means “to become like a god with the passing of time.” In other words, the antiquity of an object or person invites an increased sense of veneration and devotion.

Keywords:   yugen, occult principle, sabi, antiquity, kamisabu, veneration

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