Japanese art

There are few arts that can reach a high level of refined delicacy through the centuries for the simple purpose of perfection. The Japanese art succeeds because of the momentum that has to get an aesthetic pleasure.

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What is Japanese art?

Japanese art is any cultural and artistic expression made in the Japanese country for much of its history. His artistic is based on the predominance of the simple and harmonious. Give priority to the aesthetic suggestion. Equalize beauty with harmony. He attaches great importance to the man-nature bond.

  • Characteristics of Japanese art
  • Origin
  • History
  • Types of Japanese art
  • Japanese traditional art
  • Japanese modern art
  • Japanese floral art
  • Japanese minimalist art
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Architecture
  • Importance of Japanese art
  • Representatives
  • Plays

Characteristics of Japanese art

Japan is a very old country. Long before the outside world came into contact with this island, the Japanese country already had a rich culture full of mysteries and symbolism. Japan has, in fact, been a mystery to everyone. A mystery even for the Chinese and Koreans themselves, with whom they shared a border.

It can be said that it has been, in fact, an isolated country, apart from the great events of the world.

It should not be surprising, then, that his art has acquired a particular evolution.

But how to characterize it? How to distinguish your art from that of other countries?

The art Japanese to be understood, is the result of assimilation. Japan has been the result of constant immigration. Originally, many immigrants from the mainland arrived on the island and settled there. Along with their genetic burdens, immigrants brought their own cultural burdens. Ideas, concepts, thoughts about life, death and love were flowing on the island.

What was the result of all this? Well, an artistic expression based on the union of various manifestations. The art Japan gives priority to simplicity, to serenity and harmony. Hence, works of art can be appreciated that, more than demonstrate, they only suggest.


Historically, the Japanese island was not an island. It was part of the continent for several millennia before it separated. At the time of their separation, the first settlers gave the first signs of identity to their art. However, it was with the arrival of the Malays, the Chinese and the Koreans that their art grew. It has had an opportunity to incorporate elements of Shintoism and Buddhism over generations. From the latter came a syncretic whole that we know as the first Japanese art.


One could say that the country has gone through different stages. Each one has represented a transformation in the political and the social. The art of this country, as in the West, largely obeyed the political and social interests of the moment. Here are some of the historical stages crossed by the Japanese country :

  • Jomon period: characterized by the first artistic manifestations. It is an archaic art.
  • Yayoi period: characterized by the implantation of Shintoism and the first artistic expressions based on it.
  • Kofun period: distinguished as the beginning of imperial Japan.
  • Asuka period: which marks the arrival of Buddhism on the island. Sculptures and works with this theme begin to be made.
  • Nara period: in which the Chinese influence in the arts is revealed. Monumental buildings in the style of the neighboring country begin to be built.
  • Heian period: which is marked by a diplomatic break with China. Art begins to become independent of the Chinese style, and to acquire a slightly more Japanese way.

Among many other periods of the Japanese historical evolution .

Types of Japanese art

You could say that Japanese art overflows in styles and forms of manifestation. It is not a culture lacking in expressive resources. On the contrary, over the centuries it has sought to diversify and expand its horizons. Here are some of the artistic expressions of contemporary Japanese:

  • Literature: This has a strong influence of Chinese. Like the rest of the arts, Japanese literature has been subject to the influences of foreign cultures. Japanese writing itself, in fact, can be seen as a derivative of Chinese.
  • Music : which has used, especially since the Edo period, traditional instruments such as shamisen, shakuachi and koto .
  • Theater: Japanese theater has always stood out for the combination of different styles. It is common to see in him a staging of historical or mythological events. Their style usually incorporates musical and dramatic elements that tend to gestures and dance, to the point that they are little distinguished from the traditional dance rituals of the nation.
  • Cinema: which is one of the most recent artistic expressions. It was incorporated at the end of the 19th century, and since then, it has continued to follow the country’s syncretic tradition. One of its main exponents is, in fact, Akira Kurosawa. The latter’s work is recognized as one of the most important in world cinematography .

Japanese traditional art

Despite its long history , the traditions in present-day Japan still apply. Many Japanese, today, continue with some of their ancient practices. It is a form of preservation somewhat similar to that which Europeans make of their own arts. Some of the traditional practices of this country are:

  • Bunraku, or the art of theater through puppets.
  • The Japanese tea ceremony .
  • Origami, or the art of folding paper.
  • Shodo, or the art of calligraphy in this country.

Japanese modern art

The contemporary art in this country has received constant influence of the West. This order of influences has reached such a point that the Japanese themselves divided their arts into two: traditions and modern ones. Among the modern ones, we can see the technological, architectural, cinematographic and musical works born in the Japanese country. Its influence is such that it has managed to be exported to other countries outside the continent.

Japanese floral art

Also called Ikebana, floral art in Japan is a very old tradition. It has its influences on Buddhism, and it is deeply rooted in respect for the relationship between man and nature.

Japanese minimalist art

In Japan, there is an expression known as Ma. It is, more than anything else, a perspective on lifestyle. It consists of the preference for the minimum, for the absence of decorations. Much of the Japanese arts are marked by this style.


  • White plums in spring, by Ogata Korin.
  • Landscape, by Sesshu Toyo.
  • God of Wind , God of Thunder, by Ogata Korin.


  • Naraen-Kengo Buddhist Guardian.
  • Yukushi Niorai and her acolyte Nikko.


  • Todai-ji.
  • Horyu-ji.
  • To-hee.
  • Himeji Castle.
  • Katsura Imperial Villa.

Importance of Japanese art

It is one of the most representative artistic expressions in the East. One could say that, among all, it is the one that stands out the most for a minimalist design. Its importance stands out for allowing transcending other sectors of the West, and allowing the same to know something of the Japanese culture.


The main representatives of Japanese art are:

  • Akira Kurosawa.
  • Yukio Mishima.
  • Kenzo Tange.
  • Arata Izozaki.


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