Japan Is The Land of Art – 10th Century B.C till Forever
Art and Japan have what a child has with its mother- a bond created at birth, so unbreakable yet so beautiful. Art evolved in Japan around the 10th century B.C and owes its evolution to the early inhabitants of the Japanese islands. It was created in various forms, by various tools and elements. Japanese art has been the subject of a lot of influence due to wars, successions, invaders and adoption of new techniques from the Chinese culture, it being another art rich culture. Each new invader brought in a culture and art of its own. Much of Japanese art has also been divided into different eras and rules. Each era has a different kind of art and style and different tools, giving a clear example of how successions and attacks affected art. Japanese art is not limited to painting but also covers origami, wood block prints, literature, pottery, sculpture, calligraphy, architecture, manga as well as performing arts and music.
Early settlers in Japan created statues and pottery vessels. New settlers bought the knowledge of kiln fired ceramics and wheel thrown in the 350 B.C. Today, Japan is the undefeated master of pottery. When Buddhism touched the Japanese shores, it brought bronze casting and other refined forms of art. This resulted in beautiful works of architecture in the form of Buddhist temples that still stand erect and intact and attract thousands of religious devotees each year. Even though elaborate architecture was a keystone in Japanese culture, the late heian period also left its mark where the significance of paintings was evident.
Scrolls and panels were painted to depict ancient stories and tales such as the tale of the hungry ghosts as depicted above. All we know about Japanese history owes it greatly to these Japanese works of art that tell tales of emperors and their reigns and the dressing, art, music, theatre, food etc that was famous in their eras. Painting styles vary from rule to rule; some also depict calligraphy, portraits and scenes of traditional Japanese life.
Not only paintings, but Japanese emperors loved theatre and performance arts. Many actors and dancers were called from other countries along with local performers to the emperor’s court to entertain and impress him. It was also one of the sources of entertainment for the royalty. One of the many theatre styles, Kabuki theatre has managed to survive up till now. Other forms of performance arts that still mesmerize the locals and tourists are folk dances and traditional music played from drums, flutes, gongs, stringed instruments etc.
Every historic period has contributed something or the ther to the contemporary Japanese culture from art styles to architecture and lifestyle, but the Edo period is famous for its wood block prints and art of pleasure quarters of Kyoto. Much of these works of art are still present in museums around the world as well as local Japanese museums. Looking at these beautiful wonders is an adventure of its own kind.
Contemporary Japanese art includes painting, lacquer ware, pottery, ceramics, woodblock and sculpture. Beautiful masterpieces of these forms of art are still displayed in Nara Museum, Tokyo National Museum and Kyoto National Museum.