Japanese Art

  1. Joman Culture, Early Japan Joman culture was from 10,500 - 300 BC. This Timeline of Art History web gallery highlights six artworks that beautifully illustrate their unique "cord markings" style of pottery. The essay explains how the artworks were created.

  2. Ukioye: Japanese Woodblock Prints This is a wonderful web gallery created by the U. S. Library of Congress. There is a wide range of prints and excellent images to study.

  3. The Arts of Japan The Minneapolis Museum of Art has put together a very interesting web gallery of the Arts of Asia. There are beautiful Japanese art works as well as information about the history and culture of Japan. Check out the great maps.

  4. Buddhism: Introduction For over 25 centuries Buddhism has grown and flourished - and sometimes declined and disappeared - all over southern and eastern Asia. This short web essays give you a brief overview of the Buddhist religion. is another good source of information.

  5. The Creative Eye The Asia Society invited artists, architects and writers to select an item from their collection of Indian, Japanese, South East Asian and Chinese art then write comments about the art. Some of the texts are scholarly, some poetic, some personal and some all three. Choose some of the 75 artworks yourself and see if you and the commentator agree.

  6. Here are four sacred sites in Japan. They are from the Sacred Sites/Asia web site.

    • Izumo Taisha Situated at the foot of the sacred Yakumo and Kamiyama hills, the temple of Izumo Taisha is considered to be the oldest and most important Shinto shrine in all of Japan.
    • Miyajima Island Located several miles off the coast of Hiroshima city, the holy island of Miyajima is a sacred site of both Shintoism and Buddhism and one of the most enchantingly beautiful places on Earth. Long before Buddhism came to Japan in the 5th century AD, Shinto sages lived as hermits in the mountainís forested hills. Today the small island of only 12 square miles is much visited by pilgrims and tourists (Ms. Rindsberg has been there twice - it's very special.)
    • Ryoanji Temple Ryoan-ji, the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon, was founded in 1473 by Katsumoto Hosokawa. Within the precints of the beautiful temple is the famous Zen garden of Soami, completed in 1499. There is a nice photograph of the Zen garden, but unfortunately, not a close-up and there are no images of the beautiful, large landscape garden that surrounds it.
    • Ise ShrineThere are more than 100,000 Shinto sanctuaries in Japan, which are at the center of spiritual life of the country. Historically, Jingu, the Grand Shrine of Ise, has held the most honored place among all the Shinto temples. It is considered to be the spiritual home of the Japanese people, most of whom wish to make a pilgrimage to Jingu at least once during their lifetime. In fact, more than six million pilgrims and worshippers come to Jingu every year.
  7. Oriental Architecture If you are interested in seeing more examples of Japanese architecture, visit this web site then click on the link to Japan. You will have a choice of many architectural examples to explore, organized by city. Photographs are donated by generous people so quality varies, but it is fascinating to see many details and get an idea of the size of a building or temple.

  8. Fire Over Earth Throught the seven artworks in this Asia Society web exhibition, you'll learn about the ceramic traditions of China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. This area of the world is rich in clay and the minerals needed to make brilliant artworks that are artisticly beautiful and technically outstanding.

  9. More Than Meets The Eye: Japanese Art in the Asia Society Collection This web exhibition features more than twenty-five artworks, including paintings, prints, sculpture, and ceramics from the Neolithic to the early modern period. The exhibition shows how patrons influenced the production of art and how artists tailored their artistic approach to differing ideals of "Japaneseness" at critical times in Japan's history.

  10. Masterpieces of Japanese Art The Burke Collection is the feature of this web exhibition. The 15 artworks include brilliantly colored screens, ceramics, woodblock prints and scrolls. You'll learn about the interests of royalty and the common people.

  11. Kunisada and Kabuki This is a great site where you can learn more about the traditions of the Kabuki theater and see the colorful woodblock prints of one of it's most famous artists. There's an introduction to Kunisada's art, a section where you can see what a Kabuki theater looked like and a virtual gallery of all the prints.

  12. Yoshitoshi From the web site: "Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) was the most important Japanese woodcut artist of the Meiji period (1868-1912). He saw his work as the culmination of the Ukiyo-e tradition of the preceding Edo period, but he also developed new elements of western style and depicted contemporary events in a way that heralded the modern era. His use of daring design and expressive colour to turn the screw of violent and cruel situations made him the most vivid and shocking witness of Meiji Japan. Yet he could also conjure a refined poetry to give a new twist to traditional subjects."

  13. Tokyo National Museum This takes you to the TNM emuseum. Their collection can be viewed by type: sculpture, painting, calligraphy, decorative arts and more. Click on a category, then select an artwork to view in detail and read the curator's notes. You can enlarge the thumbnails to see great details.

  14. Japanese Language From Omniglot.com this is a short version of information about the Japanese language and writing system.

  15. The Seven Lucky Gods The Shichifukujin are an eclectic group of deities from Japan, India, and China, including Hotei, the God of Happines and Daikoku, the God of Wealth. Today images of the seven appear with great frequency in Japan - on key chains, towels, T-shirts and more. In one popular Japanese tradition, they travel together on their treasure ship Takarabune and visit human ports on New Year's Eve to dispense happiness to believers. Read more about their origins, symbols and legends.

  16. Excerts From Religious Texts This essay comparef the great texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confuciansm, Christianity, Daoism, Islam, Judaism and Shinto and is organized by themes.

  17. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a wonderful feature, the Timeline of Art History. There are hundreds of beautifully illustrated articles on special topics organized chronologically, or from the oldest to the newest, as art developed around the world. Here are topics and artworks of interest for this period of art history.

    • Jomon Culture 10,500 -300 BC The best known artworks from the Jomon period are the bold "cord markings" pottery vases, jars and figures.
    • Kamakura Period 1185-1392 The ruling warrior class favored artists who showed direct honesty and energy in paintings and sculpture. Realism was honored in samurai and religious artworks.
    • Muromachi Period 1392-1573 The arts grew beyond painting to include an appreciation of garden design, flower arranging, the decorative arts, interior design, architecture, calligraphy and the preparation and presentation of food.
    • Seasonal Imagery in Japanese Art From ancient times to the present, the Japanese people have celebrated the beauty of the seasons. Painters and artisans created works of visual beauty in response to seasonal themes and poetic inspiration - the cherry blossoms in spring and the harvest moon in the fall are just two examples.
    • Art of the Edo Period 1603-1854 It was not the royal court or samurai elite who inspired artists of this period. The artisans and merchants of Kyoto and Tokyo refined traditional artforms and developed new ones. This site links to three others.
    • Japonisme Japanese woodblock prints greatly affected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists. The poster artist Toulouse-Lautrec adapted the exaggerated colors, contours and facial expressions of Kabuki prints in his eye-catching posters.
  18. There is a documentary on the woodblock print masterpiece, The Great Wave Off Kanazawa, by Hokusai. It is posted on YouTube in five segments. It explores the life of Hokusai, the formal and contextual elements of the work and even scientific connections with the wave itself. It's fascinating. Each segment is about ten minutes long.


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