Japanese Aesthetics: Ensō

Wabi Sabi

-finding beauty within imperfections
-acceptance of the cycle of life and death
-beauty of things humble and simple
-beauty of things unrefined and unconventional
-invisible to the vulgar eye


Ensō is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy even though it is a symbol and not a character. It symbolizes strength, elegance, the universe, and the void; it can also symbolize the Japanese aesthetic itself. There are two common symbol for zen enso’s. One is a brushstroke of a closed circle. The closed circle represents the totality of experience and life. The other is a brushstroke of a circle with one small opening. The open portion of the circle represents the imperfection found in all things, and suggests to stop striving for perfection and instead to allow the universe to be as it is, imperfect. It simply shows that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. through what seems like an unfinished and inconsistent brush stroke of a circle.


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