Wasu (To harmonize)

The Japanese use a word which is also a former name of Japan to describe good relationships between people - ‘wa’. The arrangement of beautiful things, functions, or meanings into a single blended entity is also said to express wa. When wa is spoken about in relation to people, it means that there is a peaceful and good relationship. When wa is spoken about in relation to objects, it means that the finished form of the arrangement is pleasing and not overbearing. When wa is spoken about in relation to natural scenery, it means that it is tranquil and calming.

When wa is spoken about in relation to society, it means that it is stable and genial. The Japanese tend to consider things and nature in a holistic manner, and the blending and fusing together of all things is respected above everything else. With such a sensibility, wa can be found in even small things adorning daily life and also, naturally, when looking at the world as a single entity. In general, just a single flower is placed on the floor of a tea room. This is the only organic element incorporated into the room layout, and is considered to be a means to bring the people in the room together who, like the flower, are alive.

Furthermore, this single flower is a small but effective way to incorporate an element of the outside world into a man-made space, and to harmonize nature, human beings and the other things in the room together. The single flower, utensils, and people co-exist in the tea room with a beauty that is pleasing and not overbearing. This idea of wasu is not only part of the Japanese’s aesthetic sensibility and way of perceiving nature, but also has the capacity to create new things to a greater extent than we probably realize.