Mono no aware (物の哀れ)

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 used to describe the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō), or transience of things, and a gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing.

The word is derived from the Japanese word mono (物), which means “thing”, and aware (哀れ), which was a Heian period expression of measured surprise (similar to “ah” or “oh”), translating roughly as “pathos”, “poignancy”, “deep feeling”, or “sensitivity”, or “aware”. 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.


One Silversea, Hong Kong, where I used to live in 2010-2011