Appendix 4Aesthetics in Japan

Artists attempt to not only represent the passage of water and clouds in their artwork, but they also strive to reproduce the temporal experience.

Yuko HASEGAWA (Fondation du Japon 2018)

Japan is among those countries that have not only produced a highly rich range of artwork, over their history, but also possess a specific literature that makes it possible to define original criteria for beauty.

The earliest artistic manifestations in Japan can be seen in the Jomon pottery1, from several thousand years ago. The foundations of Japanese aesthetics were considerably strengthened by contributions from China, above all, and also Korea, during the constant exchanges in the Yamato (250–710) and Nara (710–794) periods. It then gradually cultivated its unique features and often set itself up in opposition to these precursors. Unlike what happened in China, the writings that analyzed and established the framework for this aesthetic came later, chiefly during the Heian period, at the end of the first millennium. The Edo period (1603–1868) and then the Meiji period (1868–1912) saw considerable development in these studies and dedicated an original aesthetic, which was distinguished by its great simplicity, combined with high sophistication. This is therefore a rich and singular artistic tradition that we will try to broadly describe here. A tradition that led a distinction between nihonga, Japanese painting, and yōga, Western painting2. In some previous ...

Get Aesthetics in Digital Photography now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.