Hibiki and nioi. A study of resonance in Japanese aesthetics

Lorenzo Marinucci


In this article I will attempt a definition of “resonance”: first reflecting about it in general terms and then trying to address its role in Japanese aesthetics, in partic-ular poetics. While far from being limited to East Asian aesthetic expressions, I will show how the experience of “resonance” has played a comparatively more central role in this cultural context, shaping peculiar forms of poetry. It is therefore useful to observe non-European sources, if only to understand our hidden cultural as-sumptions before this kind of phenomenon and suspend our prejudices more effec-tively in examining it. After examining the use of atmospheric resonance in waka and in renga I will focus on haikai 俳諧poetics and on the notions of hibiki 響き (echo) and nioi 匂い (scent) in the theoretical discussions on poetry among Matsuo Bashō 松尾芭蕉 (1844-1894) and his disciples.


Resonance; Synesthesia; Japanese poetry

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