Ruins are beautiful

gun.jpgI have read that it is difficult to translate the phrase "Mono no aware" into English. A wiki says it is "the awareness of the transience of things". this blog says it is the "aesthetic empathy of things and feelings". This site says it is "a sort of sadness". Yes they are all correct, but I feel they are not enough too. We love cherry blossom so much because they are fugacious; they die just a few days after they bloom. I think the Japanese see the beauty in something dying.

Here is the interesting site "Gunkanjima odssey". Here is the English site;, they say Gunkanjima was only small reef, but it was developed for mining coal since 1870’s. Its population was 5,000 at peak, and they built many high apartments. Thus it looked like a warship, so we call this island "Gunkanjima" (warship island). However it was closed in 1974, and it has turned into ruins now.

Actually, the density of its population was higher than Tokyo at its peak. There were many high buildings and apartments, it was a kind of futuristic city in the early 20th century. Look at the gallery. It would be okay if I say "this is the movie set of Matrix".

Why do ruins have some charm? I think it would be related to the feeling of "mono no aware". There is no life, guilt, desire, joy, happiness, pain, or anything any more. Everything is over and just wind-blown. When you experience the feeling of beauty on the site, it is the feeling of Mono no Aware.

2 Comments so far

  1. Alex Muntean (unregistered) on March 17th, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

    You know what’s interesting, last weekend I spent more than one hour on that website with my (Japanese) wife. She was completely hooked! :)

    We would like to go there but the place is closed for public.


  2. natalie (unregistered) on March 21st, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

    Thanks for the link! I downloaded the screensaver; it’s really beautiful! What an amazing place.



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