Komorebi literally translates to ‘the sunlight that filters through the trees’; the interplay between the light and leaves. Poetic, innit? Yes, yes it is. When I came upon this beautiful word, I was immediately transported to a very special moment from a recent trip to Nainital, a busy but beautiful hill station in Uttarakhand. One morning in Naini, I’d embarked on an brief early wander around the hill-top cottage we were staying at. At 6:30 am, the roads were devoid of both people and their purring cars/bikes/buses/et al. I basked in the comforting glow of the winter sun that shone through the towering trees surrounding me. In a striking contrast to a rude awakening (quite literally) from earlier in the morning, at that very moment, I felt at peace.
A poignant characteristic of Japanese culture is the close and harmonious relationship between man and nature. The Japanese consciously, constantly and consistently weave elements of nature into the close proximity of their daily lives. From seasonal festivals (case in point, celebrations surrounding the famous cherry blossom season) to the arts, fashion, food and more, the deep set intermingling of man and nature is never not apparent. This too stands true with language. Just as nature finds a corner for itself across the spectrum of Japan’s culture, many Japanese words allude to natural phenomenon. Here enters komorebi.
A through and through city girl, I find myself resonating more and more with the Japanese’ profound love and respect for nature. With every passing day, be it fuelled by the everyday stresses and hassles of city life or nurtured by the idyllic settings that ‘nature’ so gives you, I see why the ephemeral quality of verdant trees, rolling meadows and hills, a clear sky or bubbling streams is so darn therapeutic.
While I’m not sure I could keep myself away from the city forever, I see myself increasingly preferring towering trees to towering blocks of metal and concrete (affectionately called ‘buildings’). For me, the all-encompassing world of ‘nature’ is rapidly becoming the perfect runaway getaway. Perhaps soon, in the future, it’ll become a permanent refuge. Any takers?