Mono no aware (物の哀れ), or “an empathy toward things,” describes “the awareness of … the transience of things and a bittersweet sadness at their passing.”
It’s a pretty common theme in a lot of art from Japan and China (the term “mono no aware” is Japanese, but the sentiment is certainly not unique to Japan). Since many Westerners are manga fans, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō (ヨコハマ買い出し紀行) is an example of this genre that some may be familiar with.
I’ve recently realized that a lot of my stories that have difficulty finding markets exhibit mono no aware as their central sentiment. Nothing much happens in them, save an attempt to give the reader an experience of this wistfulness at the passing of time and things.
Could be that this is just not something that most readers in the West are interested in. (Or, in the alternative, I’m just a terrible writer when it comes to this kind of story.)