Wabi is used to describe an ascetic form associated with “chill”, “lean” and “withered.” Often translated as rustic.
Jōō associate wabi with the beginning of winter, and even today October is considered the most wabi month.
Takeno Jōō was the first to use the word Wabi to describe tea ascetics. In a letter attributed to him “Letter on Wabi” he writes that the in a variety of ways in the post.
Before the Muromachi periods (1392-1568) the word was used to express a feeling of distress and loneliness in straitened circumstances”
The verb Wabu means to be discourages and dispirited
As an Adjective wabishi it implied helplessness and an inconsolable emotional state.
Also in the Manyōshū the imperial collection of poems (wake), wabi is chiefly used in a negative connotation.
In a war torn capitol, the idea of reclusiveness, and loneliness starts changing in connotation, as being alone far from people does not sound as bad when you live in a city ravaged by war. Around 1490 the shift occurs, and wabi starts being used in a positiv conotation in poems and being associated with the daily life of hermits.