When talking about photography, English doesn’t always make the grade. As it turns out, Japanese does.

The Japanese have a word for everything, I think. I just learned “Komorebi. It means “sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees,” and by extension, the natural filtering of light through anything. Like blinds or curtains, for example.

I’ve been chasing that light for more than 40 years. This is the word I’ve needed. I’ve been trying to capture that forever.


Remember it. It’s a great word.

A golden tree and the rays of sunlight
Then there is bokeh, a word so popular it is now included in American books about photography. Bokeh defines something difficult to say in English.

“Bokeh means the aesthetic quality of the blur
(a soft and out of focus) part of an image produced by a lens.”

Like this.

Dry weeds by the river

Or this.

I’m sure there’s more, but this is my vocabulary lesson for the day.

15 thoughts on “THERE’S A WORD FOR IT IN JAPANESE – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. I’m quite in love with the word bokeh – for a long time already, learnt on Flickr. I also love bokeh as effect on any photo!
    The English language has a word for the filtring sun light – a word I ADORE and treasure: Dappling…. I use it at every opportunity, it says it all when you speak it out! It’s light, soft, tender, playful. Isn’t it?


  2. I just learned a couple days ago in an article that there are literally dozens of words to address yourself in the first person in Japanese. We all use “I” and “me,” but in Japan, there are pronouns to suit almost any status you believe best suits yourself.


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