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Japanese Art

No account of Japanese art, whether visual or textual, can be complete without reference to the highly traditional and highly honored value system of historic Japan. Contemporary values of Japan can be traced as far back as the 10th century, the Heian aristocratic period, marked by elegance, nature mysticism, and, perhaps contradictorily, the "circumscribed, almost claustrophobic, nature [of Heian upper-class life]. It is to a large extent an indoor life" (167). Nature was valued for its beauty, but there was a preference of natural environment "where nature seemed less raw and savage, more in harmony with the delicate nuances of human emotion" (Morris 18). The regard, perhaps reverence, for aristocratic values that would have been central to the literate, poetry-producing classes can be discerned in the contemporary period in what has been characterized as "proper place" thinking, inherited from Confucian ideas about well-ordered society (Dower 266 et passim) and figured in Japan as high respect for authority and social order. That would help explain the tradition of veneration of the Emperor of Japan, symbol of stability, which persisted through the Meiji period and indeed beyond World War II. It helps explain, too, an ethos of Japanese exceptionalism, which became amplified in the years between the wars and which was obliterated at the end of World War II. An official prewar document cites the "national Polity" and "natural tendencies that arise through racial and historical differences; and when we compare them with our national spirit, concepts, or mode of living, we cannot help recognizing further great and fundamental differences" (Ministry 285). The concept of Bushido, linked to the tradition of the samurai and the Tokugawa warrior period, was defined in Japan's imperial period as "meeting death with perfect calmness," which is consistent with the Heian notion of nature as comfort, and as the "outstanding characteristic of our ...

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Japanese Art. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 19:39, June 02, 2020, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1689245.html