Art and Culture of the Japanese

Dr. Margaret Barbee gave a very interesting lecture yesterday morning about the characteristics of Japanese art and culture that make it special and different from western art and culture. Often these words are used to describe Japanese art:

Refined
Graceful
Natural
Beauty
Detailed
Tranquil
Pleasurable

These are some terms that are used to describe certain kinds of Japanese art:

Shibui – subtle elegance, not
pretentious
Shoin – quiet, peaceful
Sukia – refinement, tradition
Wabi Sabi – rustic looking, withered,
dreary

Japanese art uses these common motifs to obtain these characteristics:

Flowers

Leaves and branches

Rocks

Water features

Birds

Colors

Metaphors and symbols

How is this art expressed in Japanese culture?

Painting

Food – cooking and serving

Calligraphy

Clothing – textiles, kimonos

Ceramics

Architecture

Gardens – bonsai

Flower arranging – Ikebana

Poetry – Haiku example:

“In the moonlight the
color and scent of Wisteria
seems far away “

Everywhere you go in Japan you see examples of gardens as art. Frank Lloyd Wright was very influenced by Japanese art.

Look how beautifully this Camphor tree has been pruned:

Even the gardeners and arborists understand art.

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