The English language has a store of poetic, evocative foreign words and some are truly delightful. Besides been a audible treat, the words express emotions that resonates with us deeply. “Komorebi” is such a word. It is the Japanese expression for the sunlight that filters through leaves of trees. Komorebi evokes the image of a dance between the light and the leaves. It reflects a respect for nature and attention to the changing of the seasons that is an integral part of Japanese culture.
No comparable English word can capture the aesthetics of komorebi. But poets come close. The author C.S. Lewis, who admired these “shafts of delicious sunlight” call them “God light”. The poet, Dylan Thomas referred to “windfall light” in his poem “Fern Hill”.
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.
– Dylan Thomas
The absence of a comparable word is not a bad thing; it means that komorebi will always remain as one of life’s pure and mystical pleasures.