YÅ«gen (å¹½çŽ„) is an important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. The exact translation of the word depends on the context. In the Chinese philosophical texts the term was taken from, yÅ«gen meant â€œdimâ€, â€œdeepâ€ or â€œmysteriousâ€. In the criticism of Japanese waka poetry, it was used to describe the subtle profundity of things that are only vaguely suggested by the poems, and was also the name of a style of poetry (one of the ten orthodox styles delineated by Fujiwara no Teika in his treatises).
Yugen suggests that beyond what can be said but is not an allusion to another world. It is about this world, this experience. All of these are portals to yugen:
“To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds. And, subtle shadows of bamboo on bamboo.” — Zeami Motokiyo
Zeami was the originator of the dramatic art form Noh theatre and wrote the classic book on dramatic theory (Kadensho). He uses images of nature as a constant metaphor. For example, â€œsnow in a silver bowlâ€ represents â€œthe Flower of Tranquilityâ€. Yugen is said to mean â€œa profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universeâ€¦ and the sad beauty of human sufferingâ€. It is used to refer to Zeamiâ€™s interpretation of â€œrefined eleganceâ€ in the performance of Noh.
Via Ratak Monodosico.