Japanese Culture and Art

Japanese Art and Culture

Ancient Japan was a very exciting place and included many interesting parts of its society.  Some of these parts included the lives of nobles, fashion, literature, visual art, architecture, performing arts, and changes in Buddhism.

Japanese Nobles: The nobles in ancient Japan lived very interesting lives. The nobles wanted to win favor with the emperor by living close to him. The nobles were so dedicated that they even created an imperial court to help serve and advise their ruler. Along with serving the emperor nobles loved beauty and elegance living lives of ease. It was even said that the nobles called themselves "dwellers amount the clouds" because they were above the common people.

Fashion: Nobles in Japan were very elegant and loved fashion. They had magnificent wardrobes consisting of silk robes and golden jewelry. It is said that women wore long gowns made of 12 layers of colored silk. To show their elegance even more nobles carried with them delicate fans imprinted with pictures of flowers, trees, and birds. Amazingly, modern Japan has developed even more creative ways to express fashion. For example, many people will participate in cosplay, where they dress up as a character from manga, anime, video games, and fantasy movies. Another popular fashion trend is called Kogal. Kogal is where women will show their wealth by keeping up with the latest culture trends, wearing the most modern fashion styles.

Literature: Japanese nobles even took great care in how they wrote and spoke. Many women also kept diaries and journals about their lives in court, but tried to make their writing beautiful in the process. One famous Japanese writer was Lady Murasaki Shikibu. She wrote a story called "The Tale of Genji" involving a prince on a quest for love, meeting many people in Japanese culture. This story is still well known today and helps to describe daily life, customs, and attitudes of Japanese nobles. Strangely, men in Japan wrote in Chinese while women wrote in Japanese. Poems were also a large part of literature in Japan. Nobles even held parties solely for writing poems. Literature not only sounded good, but looked amazing as well.  

Visual Art: Nobles also had extravagent visual arts such as painting, calligraphy, and architecture. Japaenses paintings included many images, such as nobles wearing bright, bold colors. These paintings also illustrated stories such as scenes from "The Tale of Genji." Japanese paintings were very detailed involving nature and court life. Japan even had calligraphers. These calligraphers spent hours copying poems to make them look as beautiful as they sounded.

Architecture: Japanese nobles even worked hard to make their cities beatiful. They modeled many cities based on Chinese architecture, using wooden frames and thatched roofs to create a natural feel for their temples. Other building were created using a simple, airy design, involving wood, tiled rooftops, and large open spaces. To add even more detail to the buildings nobles surrounded building with elegant gardens and ponds.

Performing Arts: Performing arts was also very popular in ancient Japan. People gathered around to watch great performances by misicians, jugglers, and acrobats. These performances were wild and fun including actors that mimicked other people. These performances also developed into drama called Noh. Noh combined music, speaking, and dance about great figures for entertainment. These dramas must have been very popular because we still have them today.

Buddhism Changes: Religion was very important in ancient Japan and considered a type of art, reflecting their love of elaborate rituals. Common people in Japan didn't have the time or money for religion which led to the development of Pure land Buddhism. This form of Buddhism was where people tried to reach an enlightened state. Along with this form of religion, Zen Buddhism seek wisdom and practice self discipline and meditation. Followers must have been very devoted to spend time meditating at such a high level of discipline. It was said that sen appealed to many Japanese, especially warriors, who gained more influence in Japan.

Conclusion: Overall ancient Japan had a very interesting, extravagant culture and amazing art.

By: Gabe Henneberger

4th period.