Japanese Art (日本美術)

Japanese art has such a wide variety of arts. There are a great number of arts such as ceramics, sculptures, and paintings. It has a long history, originating in 10000 B.C. and it has been succeeded until today.

Japanese art culture, originating in 10000 B.C. was descended from the period when new culture or foreign concepts was introduced all of a sudden, followed by the long period when cultural exchange was interrupted. After years, Japanese people acquired abilities to absorb, imitate, and assimilate them into foreign cultural elements, and to accomplish Japanese original tastes on arts. The first complicated art that was closely associated with Buddhism in Japan was born around from the seventh to eighth centuries. While Japan kept some distance from China in the ninth century, Japanese people started to create their own means of expression in the ninth century and then an emphasis was placed on nonreligious art. In the period from the 10th to 12th century, the period of the Kokufu Bunka (Japan's original national culture) and Insei period culture, 'Japanese style,' the culture suited to Japanese tastes was sophisticatedly developed. Jodo (Pure Land) sect style garden influenced by Jodo (Pure Land) sect was constructed in a Japanese-style architecture in Shinden-zukuri style (architecture representative of a nobleman's residence in the Heian period). After the middle of the 13th century when the Zen sect was in full bloom, karesansui (dry garden style) became popular, and both Buddhist art and nonreligious art were prosperous until the latter half of the 15th century. After the Onin War (1467 - 1477), Japan entered the Sengoku period (period of warring states), and was politically, socially, and economically divided for more than 100 years.

During the Edo period governed by the Tokugawa shogunate, organized religions hardly influenced the life of people, and most of the remained arts were nonreligious arts. The Japanese garden, a circuit style garden, started to be constructed in the Daimyo's large homes after the early 17th century.

Paintings, excellent artistic expressions, are preferred in Japan; painters create works whether they are professional or amateur. Given that Japanese people have been familiar with brushing through their use of a brush instead of a pencil, their appreciation for paintings was heightened.

In the Edo period, so-called pop culture (sub culture) became very popular. The woodblock print called the Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) became the major artistic means, and skills of Ukiyoe created colorful paintings to exactly suit its purposes; from daily newspapers to textbooks. Japanese people during this period didn't like to have sculptures as artistic expressions. Sculptures in Japanese society, where traditional Buddhism was losing its power, were waning; most of Japanese sculptures were related to religions.

Japanese ceramics are the most excellent across the world, and it has the longest history amongst the Japanese arts. Japanese architecture represents the Japanese preference, placing an emphasis on natural materials and the harmonic unity of the outside and inside of a building.

Today's Japan is powerful and competitive with other countries in modern art, fashion, and architecture by containing truly new ideas, embracing the world, and creating trends to unify various cultures (or beyond culture).

Japanese art history
Jomon art
Jomon men, the first people in the Japan islands, were hunting people who mainly hunted and fished for their life, and later, they did collective farming, forming large and small communities. The name of 'Jomon' came from the pattern of ropes inscribed on their earthware. Jomon men lived in tateanajukyo (a pit dwelling house), and made earthware for cooking or storing food, and ornaments using clay dolls, jade, or agate (including nioidama).

Yayoi art
The second immigrant group to Japan were Yayoi men. Yayoi men arrived in Japan around 350 B.C., and they introduced knowledge of wet-paddy rice cultivation, skills with copper arms and dptaku (a bell-shaped bronze vessel), and creative skills with ceramics that were made on the wheel and burnt in a dried burner.

[Original Japanese]