Language is one of the many fascinating creations of the mankind. What an imperfect yet glorious and adventurous effort it is to try and grasp the unfathomable in a single word!
And the best part is that one does not need to be a poet or a writer to be able to celebrate the joys of language on a daily basis. Fill in journals, write love notes, caption photographs, even our grocery-shopping list can be considered a form of art if you look at it differently, because imagination is what makes the world go around!
Well, this and because as the earth formed, the material was caught in the earth’s gravitational field; which made it orbit the earth, but that is a subject of another study. We are here to praise words.
The Japanese are revered far and wide for their sophisticated use of language and it is hardly any surprise that they have a myriad of exquisite poetic words, which lack English equivalents.
Spring and the delightful warm glow of the great golden orb in the sky made us think about the Japanese word komorebi [koh-moh-reh-bee].
And it is now the season of the epic sakura – the cherry trees in full bloom – one of Japan’s most prominent attractions.
Translation of Komorebi
Komorebi is an untranslatable word, which eloquently captures the effect of sunlight streaming through the leaves of the trees. The shadow created on the ground, or even in our curtains, describes this everyday beauty.
It is the interplay of the aesthetics between the shadows and the leaves, and the shape of nature’s wisest earthly existence – trees.
To equate the powerful beauty projected by this word with “sunbeam” or “sunshine” would be an injustice to nature’s landscape – our magnificent perpetual muse.
The etymology of the word komorebi is a quite logical and obvious one. Komorebi is a compound of four characters – three kanji and the hiragana particle れ.
The first kanji 木 means ‘tree’ (or ‘trees‘), the second one 漏 refers to ‘escape’ and the last one 日 is ‘light‘ or ‘sun‘ and there we come to the literal, yet very poetic meaning of the term komorebi – the sunshine filtering through the leaves of trees.
The closest English equivalent is probably the phrase: dappled sunlight.