From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art

From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
UNDER THE WAVE OF KANAGAWA (富嶽三十六景 神奈川沖浪裏) aka THE GREAT WAVE BY KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI. ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS PAINTINGS IN JAPANESE ART- image courtesy of MetMuseum.org
Japanese Art have always been a timeless classic that until now people are still fascinated with it’s beauty and also, it encompasses more than just paintings and sculptures. Since the dawn of japanese civilization, they have produced works of art in different avenues to showcase their creativity. Japan have shown the beauty of their culture through their art and craftsmanship. Every era in the history of Japan have invented and shared a design style that solidified the identity of Japanese art. In a general sense, it is said that studying Japanese art is complicated. Japan is known to have produced so many beautiful and creative artistry that are timeless. They have also created art that are not just visually appealing but innovative and can help us during our day to day lives.

Notable Events in Japanese Art History

During the late 19th and 20th century, Japan opened its doors to the West. The land of the Rising Sun have developed their culture since 10000 BC and became a world unto itself when they were colonized by different countries. They adopted some aspects of foreign culture and made it their own; somehow, these foreign culture made the aesthetic of the Japanese
complete.

Nature have always been the muse of japanese art; in paintings and artworks and is considered as a secular subject since the introduction of Chinese style in the Japanese Art and culture. In the 16th century, Japan started to transition from Chinese inspired art to a more local and homegrown aspects of the country. Aside from this, different periods in Japanese History have birthed a work of art that further established the culture and identity of Japan. From the paleolithic stage until now, Reiwa Period, Japan have been consistent with their identity and aesthetic that they share with the world.

Here are the periods that gave innovative and notable works that contributed to Japanese Art

Jomon Period’s Cord Pattern in Pottery

From the humble beginnings of Japan up to 300 BC, came the Jomon Period (縄文時代). Jomon Period introduced a different kind of pottery from the Paleolithic age. The pots in the Jomon Period are adorned with rope-like patterns, hence, the meaning of Jomon is “cord pattern.”

From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
FLAME-RIMMED DEEP BOWL (KAEN DOKI 縄文 火焔土器) FROM JOMON PERIOD. Image Courtesy by The Metropolitan Musuem of Art (US)

Yayoi Period’s Mettalurgy

One of the main invention at this period was the introduction of mettalurgy. They invented tools and technologies such as weapons, armor, and tools with iron and bronze. “There is ritual implements such as bells (dotaku) which were frequently decorated with geometric patterns, although representations of domesticated animals and scenes of daily life.”

From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
SPEAR FROM THE YAYOI PERIOD. Image Courtesy by factsanddetails.com
From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
DOTAKU FROM THE YAYOI PERIOD. Image Courtesy by factsanddetails.com
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Yamato Period’s Burial Mounds

Although the beginning of Yamato Period is debated, it birthed the building of burial mounds. According to New Encylopedia, “this period is divided into the Kofun and Asuka periods by the establishment of the capital at Asuka, in modern Nara Prefecture. However, the Kofun period is an archaeological period, while the Asuka period is a historical period, and this concept of period division is now considered old-fashioned in Japan.” Burial mounds originated from Kofun period for the elite and the ruling class of the era. The word Kofu is likened to the earthen mounds used for funeral rituals for the rich.

From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
NINTOKU-TENNO-RYO OR THE NINTOKU MAUSOLEUM IN SAKAI, OSAKA PREFACTURE. Image Courtesy of KYODO and thejapantimes.com.

Nara Period’s Buddhist Architecture and Sculpture

Heijō-kyō or Nara is the first capital established in Japan. According to study.com, “Empress Genmei and her successors developed Nara into a center of modernity, religion, and innovation where she emulated many aspects of the Chinese culture and incorporated them into the Japanese society. During this period, Buddhism was also brought to Japan, thus modifying many aspects of the daily life, local laws, and rituals. Architecture and other forms of art were also greatly influenced.” With this, the Japanese people built temples to house rituals for Buddhism and created sculptures of Buddhist deities with bronze, wood, clay and lacquer. Paintings during this period is similar to the T’ang dynasty of China since the influence of the Chinese culture are more prominent in this era.

From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
KASUGA TAISHA SHINTO SHRINE FOUNDED DURING THE NARA PERIOD. Image Courtesy of ancient.eu
From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
BRONZE BUDDHA AT THE DAIBUTSUDEN (THE GREAT BUDDHA HALL) AT THE TODAJI TEMPLE. Image Courtesy of ancient.eu.
From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
KICHIJŌTEN PAINTING IN YAKUSHI TEMPLE. Image Courtesy of britannica.com

Heian Period’s Writing

“The Heian period was one of the great periods of artistic development in Japan. Contacts with China were interrupted toward the end of the ninth century, and Japan’s civilization began to take on its own special characteristics and forms,“ according to factsanddetails.com. With the rebellion and violent displacement of the capital from Nara to Nagaoka, Japan’s civilization began to claim its individuality. One of the cultural aspect that was changed in Japanese Art is Calligraphy and writing which lead to the publication of the novel, Tale of Genji.

From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
ILLUSTRATIONS FOR THE TALE OF GENJI. Image Courtesy of ancient.eu.

Kamakura Period’s Martial Arts

The conception of Bushido or the way of the samurai marks the beginning of this era with Yarimoto Monimoto as the first shogun in 1192. Bakufu or a government lead by warrior chieftains have taken control of Japan and transitioned from a Chinese-style bureaucratic state to a feudal system. According to factsanddetails.com, “It encouraged austerity and the pursuit of the martial arts and used its strength to bring landlords under their control and restore control over Japan.”

From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
KAMAKURA PERIOD ARMOR. Image Courtesy of factsanddetails.com

Muromachi Period’s Zen Influence

Muromachi Period restored the political power to Kyoto and despite another political displacement, Japan still became artistically innovative with the restored communication with China. With this, the thought and artistry of Japan was inspired by Zen Buddhism which was accepted by the military in turn affected the the country in all aspects.
From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
GIBBONS IN A LANDSCAPE BY SESSON SHūKEI. Image Courtesy of the Metropolitan Musuem of Arts (US).
From Pottery to Anime: The History of Japanese Art
BIRDS AND FLOWERS OF THE FOUR SEASONS OF THE MOMOYAMA PERIOD. Image Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts (US).

Heisei Period’s Modern Japanese Art: Anime and Video Games

January 1989, with the rise to power of Emperor Akihito, the cultural characteristics of modern Japan are defined. Japan introduced technologically advanced gadgets and tools that changed the world forever. Of course, contemporary art and architecture still gives Japan its own identity however, with the rise of technology and the internet, Anime and Video Games created an aesthetic and individuality for the Modern Japanese Art. According to study.com, “Japanese animations, known as anime, have been popular since the 1960s and by the 1990s they were famous all over the world. Studios produce different stories with intriguing and complex plots and have created many iconic characters. Similarly, Japan has been a pioneer in video games, not only the production of consoles for playing them but also conceiving diverse genres and animations that become more sophisticated every year.”

As the new era begins, there are a lot to be expected from the Japanese culture and Japanese Art as the journey begin towards the new Japan. Japanese Art gave Japan the identity it now holds, despite several influence given by neighboring countries. It gave Japan individuality through their aesthetic and used the inspiration and made it as their own. Every period from the history turned their challenges into works of art that further solidified Japan.

Japanese Art showed who Japan really is through its creativity. You too can show who you really are through the interior of your home. If you are planning to revamp your place, Tokyo Grand Renovation is at your service. Tokyo Grand Renovation (TGR) is a Japanese home interior design and renovation firm that focuses on designing and building luxury spaces that are stylish, elegant, and also functional using Japanese lifestyle craftsmanship. TGR is located at the heart of Makati Central District. Learn more about us here.

For inquiries, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 832 16 76, or send an e-mail at  info@tgr.com.ph.

TGRはマカティの高級インテリアデザイン、リノベーション、会社です。TGRは 住宅および商業 スペースの為のデザインと建築を提供 し ております。お問い合わせは 、02832 1676 にお電話いただくか、 電子メール info@tgr.com.ph へ送信 お願いします。

日本語で会社のウェブサイトをご覧ください:https://tgr.com.ph/ja

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