The Arts In Ancient Japan

Ancient Japan was a place of art and literature…well at least for the nobles. The nobles of ancient Japan were very supportive of the arts such as literature, fashion, paintings, and architecture.

In ways of fashion the nobles wore extravagant garb. The women of court wore colorful silk that was layered and cut to show many of the colorful layers at once. The would also carry painted fans. The fans would be painted with bold and bright colors usually depicting seems from nature such as birds or flowers.

The Japanese also had a love of the written word. Japanese noble wrote a lot about their daily lives but what they wrote was not scrawled carelessly on paper is was worded with beauty and elegance. Most of the great early Japanese works were written by women because the men usually wrote in Chinese characters. The noble believed that writing was meant to be beautiful in every aspect how it sounded and looked. One of the greatest early writers was a woman named Lady Murasaki Shikibu. She wrote "The Tale of Genji" around 1000AD. Many consider it the first full length novel.  

The Japanese paintings were another popular form of expression among the nobles. Japanese painting were painted with bold and bright colors. The paintings usually showed images of nature or from their literature. Unlike most modern paintings it wasn't usually done on paper but on doors and other furniture

The ancient Japanese took much of the Chinese architecture into their own. Buildings feature wooden frames with slightly curved ends on the roofs. These wood frames were often left unpainted to add a more organic feel the thatched roofs also helped in this effect. The homes of nobles had a few differences to those of the common folk. Homes of nobility usually had an open feel with large rooms and tiled roofs instead of thatched. The  noble often put gardens around their homes to add tho the already evident beauty.

Performing arts were a very popular form of entertainment in ancient Japan. The ancient Japanese often gathered to watch jugglers, acrobats, musicians, and other preforers. The main attraction of performing arts in that time where the plays. They had a kind of play called a Noh. Nohs were a lot like our modern musicals conbining music, acting and dancing. These plays often told about Japanese heros.

When Buddhism came to the islands of Japan the religion changed the nobles did complicated rituals to achieve enlightenmentment. The common folk chanted the name of Budda over and over to achieve enlightenment. In the 1100AD a new form of Buddhism came to Japan from China called zen. Zen told people that the only way to reach enlightenment was through self discipline and meditation. This appealed to many of the Japanese especially warriors who gave it influenced.

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