SHIBUI: THE “WHITE” JAPANESE BEAUTY

Wabi-sabi (侘 寂) constitutes a Japanese worldview, or aesthetic, founded on the acceptance of the transience and imperfection of things. ... Its aesthetic characteristics include: asymmetry, harshness, simplicity, modesty, intimacy and suggestion of natural processes.
To understand what beauty is for Japanese women, one must think of Ikebana, the ancient art of flowers. A ritual, like calligraphy, the study of literary compositions and poetry, which the Zen masters have transfigured into a religious experience of reflection and illumination, in a way to guide the mind towards the absolute.
Precise and meticulous rituals: beauty must be regal, intense and shining because we already know that it will vanish and that we will vanish with it and is linked to the total acceptance of destiny, beyond good and evil, according to the aesthetic vision of " wabisabi ”, founded precisely on the transience of things. Therefore, the obsession with punctual and exasperated care has its roots steeped in a millenary and powerful spiritual tradition, in the philosophy and religious influences of Buddhism and Shintoism. Obsession of a people full of contradictions and contrasts, which combines devotion to the past with a vision that anticipates the future. Where manual treatments coexist with hyper-technological and sophisticated tools that try to reproduce, at home, the salon protocols. By transforming aesthetics, and the radiance of the face, from theory to practice. Like in an Ikebana, like in a Buddhist prayer. Into something sacred.
The attention of Japanese women to the care and maintenance of a complexion that is as ethereal as possible, flawless and white as snow, is a known fact. This obsession becomes very obvious by visiting any cosmetic shop, perfumery or even pharmacy in Japan: facial masks, creams, treatments of all kinds to whiten or "illuminate", as the Japanese say, the complexion and achieve the much desired aesthetic canon of bihaku (literally "white beauty", equivalent to the maximum level of beauty that a woman's skin can reach).
The appreciation of white skin as an aesthetic canon has very deep roots in Japan and dates back to about 1300 years ago, during the period between the Asuka (538 - 710 AD) and Nara (710 - 794 AD) eras when, at the same time to the massive import from China of Buddhist religious practices and technical knowledge in various fields, customs related to the aesthetics and fashion of the time began to appear on the shores of the Japan archipelago. Among these, the white color of the leather as a sign of elegance and value. The application of a whitish powder called oshiroi (literally "white powder") obtained from the crushing of rice or shells of shells practiced up to that moment in Japan, was gradually replaced by the much more effective technique introduced by the continent which consisted in the whitening of the skin by smearing a lead-based substance on it.
Thanks also to the admiration with which the aristocracy in Japan looked at the refinement of the sophisticated Chinese civilization of the time, the practice of whitening the skin with a state of lead-based oshiroi soon became a widespread fashion among the nobles of the Japanese court. . Not only women, but also men of the nobility used to apply a base of oshiroi to the face. Being an extremely expensive and precious cosmetic, the concept of aesthetic beauty was accompanied by the symbol of one's status in society at the same time. And so, from the spasmodic desire for beauty and elegance pursued by the refined court aristocracy, the aesthetic cult for a pale white complexion, of an absolute whiteness and free of imperfections, was consolidated in Japan.
Over the centuries, the custom of painting the face and neck with a layer of milky white oshiroi has given way to the much more sustainable concept of a skin tending to white in a "natural" way. Even if Japanese women no longer paint their faces, the value and quality of a white skin remains implicit in historical memory, an aesthetic canon handed down to the present day and of which all the shopping centers in Japan are unequivocal proof, for their offer in terms of cosmetics that enhances the whiteness of the skin as the value to aspire to.
After the World War, however, there was a reversal of the trend. The same Shiseido, giant of the Japanese cosmetics industry, launched in 1966 the promotional campaign for a summer line of cosmetics focused on the concept of the enjoyment of summer, whose slogan read "Let us love the Sun", and depicted (Japanese) models from golden skin in the rays of the sun. In those years it was customary for girls who could not get a natural tan on the beach to use foundation with warm bronze colors. But it was a fashion incompatible with tradition, and destined to soon evaporate from the collective imagination.

The development of scientific research, and with it the evidence that exposure to sunlight causes unpleasant consequences such as spots and wrinkles, as well as dangerous skin diseases, has favored a return to the ancient preference of Japanese women for a white and flawless complexion like a blanket of fresh snow. The candid beauty of white which, as the saying goes, has the intrinsic strength to condone other imperfections. It is the concept of bihaku, that is the aesthetic canon par excellence that has established the boundary between elegance and vulgarity in Japan for centuries.

LOVE IS NOT THE ANSWER

If I think back to how much love I gave to people who didn’t want it, how many disappointments I had, how much sadness and suffering, how much anticipation and anger! now it doesn’t seem true that the end of all this has come. I poured my love into hearts that did not feel, into souls that did not live. I gave myself to people dead inside, to those who did not know what it meant to love, to those who do not yet know what it means to love. I painted love in minds that just wanted not to love. I tried, tried, risked everything about myself, even my sanity, my inner well-being. And all because within me this energy needed to flow out, to be given to others, to expand, to go out and fulfill itself. After so much wandering, the unexpected landing is the best thing. Where you never thought you could find a place of peace and serenity, you arrive right there by chance, discovering that everything that was was only a prelude and to what would come after. After so much torment, so much existential fatigue, after every conflict and inner struggle, now I can say that everything has taken its place within me. That there was a total stop of that wild and dangerous flood that came out of me every time I tried to stop myself. That noisy and chaotic waterfall that poured onto the other, like an explosion of uncontrollable energy, now flows by itself in a different way. The tiger that roared inside the lotus flower has now disappeared and the lotus flower has opened and shines with light never seen before. My Tai Chi master had seen well, but it was I who couldn’t see because the times weren’t right yet. There was all that water that stirred my heart, which deprived me of that vision of myself that I still could not have. Because I was not yet ready for enlightenment. Now I understand that enlightenment can only be found if it is not sought. It comes at a time when you don’t look for it at all and you may feel you can never even get there because you are not the type, because you do not have that way of seeing or feeling. Because you are in the hell of life and you can’t think that anything else can exist. It comes at a time when the last thought of your life is to have that vision and that peace that you have always dreamed of. And only now do I understand why it is so difficult to describe it to others, why it is difficult to find the words that can describe such an inner state. It is a bit like when Buddhists try to explain that suffering does not exist and that it is only a construction of man. If I go to see what has been inside me so far, I find nothing but nothing. But it is that nothing that is stupendous, that is a whole. Because becoming nothing, becoming emptiness is a splendid thing. Nothing has become my past. There is no longer any trace of it inside me. There is no one and no thing. Everything has vanished into the nothingness that I am now. A lotus flower needs only water to grow and water is the only source it needs. Everything else no longer exists. The inner light is the only source, the rest is something that never comes. My being is aware of the journey it has made to become the Void, and the acquired well-being is extraordinary. Because my being no longer needs anything. Love, anger, life, sun, food, friendship, internet,… ..all these things seem made of smoke to me. I am like an impalpable fog inside me. No sensation comes to me from the outside but it is my being that flows and that’s enough for me. Before, the world was the fertilizer for my plant. Now my plant grows by itself, has its roots in the sky and the sap comes from the light. It does not need anything else. The void needs nothing else. My heart is still beating, it is alive, yes, but inside my heart there is only infinite light. Inside me there is only one lotus flower that blooms every day.

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