The more I come in contact with Japanese culture and nature, the more I seem to like them. It does not, of course, mean that Japan is a paradise on earth and that Japanese people are like celestial beings. I am well aware that saṃsāric existence is a deficient existence. Japan is a piece of saṃsāra. It is, in fact, an epitome of saṃsāra. I have come across wonderful colleagues, students, friends, food, shopping centers, winter, mountains, onsens, temples, rivers, trees, bamboos, earthquakes, kilns, Sake factory, Whisky distillery, winery, and above all a foretaste of full-blown cherry blossoms. This time I have either been too early for the full-blown cherry blossoms or full-blown cherry blossoms have been a bit too late. By the way, Fujisan refused to reveal her full glory to me. Not in Yatsugatake, not in Tsukuba. But I did climb Mount Tsukuba. Not a great accomplishment, but nonetheless an accomplishment. I think I understand slightly how mountaineers feel when they arrive at the peak. At any rate, I had been very busy but nonetheless had a good time in Japan. As I pack my things to fly back to Germany, I realize that I feel a tinge of inexplicable sadness. It is not that I wish to stay in Japan or that I do not wish to get back to Germany. Germany is my second adoptive home. In fact, I am looking forward to get back to Germany. Yet, what is this pang? Just recently in Yatsugatake, some Japanese friends mentioned a Japanese expression mono no aware (物の哀れ). I asked them to explain it to me and they fumbled for precise words. So I tried to look up for it and it is supposed to mean “the pathos of things,” and also translated as “an empathy toward things,” or “a sensitivity to ephemera.” It is said to be ‘“an awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.” The term is said to have been coined in the eighteenth century by the Edo period Japanese cultural scholar Motoori Norinaga and became central to his philosophy of literature and eventually to Japanese cultural tradition. “The phrase is derived from the Japanese word mono (物), which means ‘thing,’ and aware (哀れ), which was a Heian period expression of measured surprise (similar to ‘ah’ or ‘oh’), translating roughly as ‘pathos,’ ‘poignancy,’ ‘deep feeling,’ ‘sensitivity,’ or ‘awareness.’ Thus, mono no aware has frequently been translated as “the ‘ahh-ness’ of things,’ life, and love. Awareness of the transience of all things heightens appreciation of their beauty, and evokes a gentle sadness at their passing” (Wikipedia, s.v.). I believe that the feeling or emotion that I feel is mono no aware. I also feel that it is somewhat related to the Buddhist idea of saṃskāraduḥkhatā (’du byed kyi sdug bsngal). My German professor has once translated it as “ultimate unsatisfactoriness.” We should not be misled by the component duḥkha and think that it implies “suffering” whereas the idea of mono no aware also includes a sense of empathy and appreciation for the fleeting beautiful things while being aware of their transiency. In fact, saṃskāraduḥkhatā seems to be always related to a feeling or emotion that is related with what we consider pleasant, desirable, and enjoyable (and thus with beautify, enjoyment, and happiness) and accompanied with an awareness (and followed by an emotion of sadness or unsatisfactoriness) that happiness (i.e. subjective) and enjoyable and desirable things or beauty (i.e. objective) will not endure. The realization of the intrinsic transiency of happiness and beauty makes one sad and discontent. In this aspect, saṃskāraduḥkhatā seems to be very comparable with mono no aware. The difference maybe that the element of appreciation and admiration is not accentuated by the concept of saṃskāraduḥkhatā. If I were to try to translate mono no aware into Tibetan, I would propose dngos po’i e ma dang kye ma nyid (lit. “the marvel and pathos of things”). The component e ma should be understood as in the context of e ma ho (an expression of marvel or wonder) and kye ma (in the sense of ‘Alas!’). Interestingly, being sad is not necessarily bad. The Ratnagotravibhāga seems to suggest that sentient beings would not be sad if they had no buddha element. This idea needs to be explored.