Japanese Art And Things You Don't Know

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Written by: Phương Thảo


Japan is a country that always strives for perfection. Above all, Japan is also known as a country with a clear blend of traditional and modern culture. Therefore, besides the rapid development of technology, the cultural and artistic values ​​here are not lost but also changed to be compatible with the times.

1. Origins of Japanese Art

The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is undoubtedly one of the most famous works of Japanese art. It is no coincidence that this much-loved woodblock print depicts the mighty power of nature alongside the majestic Mount Fuji.

japanese art

Nature, especially high mountains, are a common topic in Japanese art from the first days. Before Buddhism was propagated to Japan in the 6th century, the monopoly of the Japanese people was the god. At the core, the god is respect for the gods, who are said to reside in natural things such as trees and mountains.

Therefore, in Japan, nature is not merely secular scenery but a representative image of the spiritual world. The respect for the natural world has many similarities with the Chinese art style and the Heian period (794-1185) below is the oldest silk painting of Japan.

japanese art

The creation of a distinctly Japanese art style called yamato-e (literally “Japanese image”) began with the gradual replacement of natural Chinese motifs with nature images typical of their own country, for example, the Japanese long-tailed bird replacing the Chinese phoenix. Some of the animals that often appear in these works of art are foxes and mink.

2. Tea Ceremony Art

The development of the tea ceremony had a profound influence on the history of traditional Japanese arts and crafts. Wealthy families in the olden days used gatherings to display their most lavish tea utensils, but starting in the 16th century, the aesthetic of these utensils tended to be simpler.

japanese art

The subtlety and elegance of the tea ceremony art were further popularized through the wabi-sabi concept of the tea master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591). This concept originates from the religious thought of Zen Buddhism, referring to the philosophy of impermanence, that nothing is perfect. Therefore, the tone of tea utensils favors pale earth colors over sparkling paint colors.

The popularity of the tea ceremony stimulated growth in Japanese craftsmanship, and over the centuries, the wabi-sabi philosophy spread to textiles, metalwork, woodwork, and ceramics.

3. Samurai Art

Referring to the spirit of the Japanese people, people tend to immediately think of samurai warriors, but you may not know, that these heroic warriors are not only trained to fight. Samurai (also known as bushi), their heyday was in the Edo period (1603-1867). Samurai developed a standard system of moral codes known as bushido (bushido). Because samurai served in the nobility – who was very knowledgeable about art, besides being strong and indomitable in battles, they also gradually idealized art in life and aspired to reach the top in this field.

japanese art

The art of samurai is directly related to how armor and weapons are made. The samurai sword, the main tool, and symbol of the bushi are strong yet versatile, with a sharp curved steel blade. The sheath of the sword called the tsuba is also depicted with elegant, auspicious symbols as a backdrop from mythology and literature. The samurai armor was equally impressive and intricate. It is expertly handcrafted and made of materials such as leather and lacquer. Even in times of peace, samurai continued to wear or display armor as a symbol of their noble status and power.

4. The vivid beauty of Japanese ceramics

The beauty and splendor of Japanese ceramics have long been famous all over the world but few know that it originated in the 1600s in a southern town called Arita. Modern ceramic production dates back to the Edo period, during the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, a period when foreign trade and tourism in Japan were largely banned, leaving the country isolated from the rest of the world. . However, trade also developed within a certain limit, with the highlight being the man-made island of Dejima in Nagasaki that was created to separate foreign merchants from Japanese residents.

The Japanese ceramic industry was officially born when Yi Sam-pyeong – a Korean slave discovered a natural clay source in the mountains of Arita, not far from Nagasaki. Since then, he has taught the method of making ceramics to the people here and Yi Sam-pyeong is said to be the father of ceramic art in Japan.

japanese art

5. Japanese Craftmanship

A post-World War II modernized Japan offered opportunities for prosperity for many professions, but in the arts sector, a wave of Westernization began to threaten the survival of traditional crafts. To save this situation, the government has issued a series of laws to encourage such as the recognition of these important cultural heritages of the nation and the honor of artisans who can preserve the techniques. traditions in the future, including famous masters such as Matsui Kosei (1927-2003), and Kubota Itchiku.

In contrast, glass was not commonly used in Japan before the Meiji renaissance, but with the spread of Western-style housing and glass windows, artisans quickly discovered the potential of an object. this versatile material, including Yukito Nishinaka. Inspired by Japanese crafts of the past, Nishinaka creates objects such as tea ware and garden ornaments, all made of glass.

japanese art

Art Deco is a field that, although not originally from Japan, has a rich Cultural Heritage for creating unique works of art. Prominently, the artist Mariko Sumioka felt the aesthetic value not only in houses and temples but also in other building materials and traditional crafts.

6. The future of Japanese contemporary art

Contemporary Japanese art in the 21st-century honors artists who have made efforts to break down old and outdated boundaries to create new and independent effects on art, from painting to the era. pages to sculpture, photography, especially the appearance of female artists. If you’re in Tokyo, visit the Museum of Contemporary Japanese Art, a place that offers visitors a delightful experience, not only in high-quality materials or meticulous paintings but also in creative creations. The breath of the times.


Japanese art is one of the world’s greatest treasures, but there is little on the Internet to help you learn about this massive cultural treasure. Art created by people and nature has always been the main source of inspiration in the Japanese way of life. Today, contemporary Japanese art is flourishing with innovation and creativity, helping the country’s art scene go beyond the national territory and closer to fans around the world.

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