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Arts & Crafts

Tennozu Isle's Up and Coming Art Scene

Tennozu Isle's Up and Coming Art Scene

While Tokyo's vast array of exhibitions and art hubs can be difficult to navigate, there is one area that is not to be overlooked - that is Tennozu Isle. Located within walking distance from Shinagawa, the “isle” is characteristically surrounded by canals.

Experiencing Noh Theater

Experiencing Noh Theater

Noh, with its emphasis on the Japanese aesthetics of profundity and sublimity, continues to intrigue both the Japanese and foreign audience alike. Coming from the character 能, which means "talent" or "skill", this art form is the oldest among Japan's traditional schools of theater.

Matcha: At the Height of Japanese Tea Culture

Matcha: At the Height of Japanese Tea Culture

Matcha (抹茶) is a powdered green tea. Known for its particularly strong flavor, it holds a special place in Japanese culture as the leading role in the Japanese tea ceremony, where it is served along with a confectionary sweet, known as wagashi (和菓子).

The Natural Beauty & Charm of the Seto Inland Sea

The Natural Beauty & Charm of the Seto Inland Sea

Previously we introduced Naoshima, an island teeming with art and creativity. This time we will introduce some other noteworthy places that are located near Naoshima; Takamatsu and the surrounding islands.

Japan's Revolutionary Artist: Hokusai

Japan's Revolutionary Artist: Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai (1760- 1849), most famously known for his series of Mt. Fuji prints, was a revolutionary artist of the late Edo period. At a time when interaction with other countries was strictly restricted, Hokusai incorporated not only various Japanese styles but Western styles to his works as well, and was recognized both domestically and internationally.

Introduction to Japanese Aesthetics

Introduction to Japanese Aesthetics

The appreciation of beauty and its effortless integration into the daily rituals of life in Japan constitutes a history of ‘cultural addition’ as Japanese composer Ito Teijii points out. As such, the aesthetic concepts of wabi, sabi, and miyabi, explored below, have not only survived, but rather flourished over time.

Preparations before participating in Tea Ceremony

Preparations before participating in Tea Ceremony

Tea ceremony (called chadō or sadō) is one of Japan’s most enduring artistic traditions. Tea ceremony is a means to aesthetic appreciation and social interaction that has had a profound influence on other forms of Japanese art, cuisine and philosophy.

Kimono - More Than Just "A Thing to Wear"

Kimono - More Than Just "A Thing to Wear"

The word kimono (着物) was historically used as a general term to describe clothing, as it literally translates as “something to wear.” Today, the term specifically refers to the long garments that have become popularly recognized throughout the world as a symbol of Japanese traditional clothing.

Mingei - The Revival of Japanese Folk Art

Mingei - The Revival of Japanese Folk Art

The Mingei Movement focuses on the overlooked beauty of art and crafts made by average people that are practical and used in daily life. Mingei can also be seen as a response to Japan's rapid industrialization, as it elevates things made in large quantity by the hand's of the common people, rather than in a factory.

Urushi Lacquer - 9000 Years of Beauty and Durability

Urushi Lacquer - 9000 Years of Beauty and Durability

Japanese lacquerware and lacquerware production is known as urushi (pronounced “oo-roo-shee”). It is a word that can also refer to the lacquer itself, which is harvested from the sap of the urushi tree (lacquer tree). It culminates the beauty and elegance of Japanese aesthetics into practical objects, and it can be regarded as the pinnacle of Japanese craftsmanship.

How to Participate in a Geisha Dinner

How to Participate in a Geisha Dinner

So you've decided to take part in a formal Japanese dinner, maybe at a tea house.Today's topic is probably the most important for our readers making plans to go to Japan: How to prepare for and participate in a geisha dinner. What should you wear? What will happen during the dinner? What interactions can you expect?

The History of Geisha in Japanese Culture

The History of Geisha in Japanese Culture

Believe it or not, the original geisha hardly resembled modern geisha in any way. The first geisha were actually male, appearing around the year 1730. It was only about 20 years later that female geisha began to appear in the forms of odoriko (踊り子, meaning dancers) and shamisen players, and they quickly took over the profession, dominating it by 1780.

The Life of a Geisha

The Life of a Geisha

Geisha, at the most fundamental level, are professional entertainers. They are trained in a variety of Japanese traditional arts, such as dancing, singing, flute, and shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed instrument), as well as the art of hospitality. They also play games and engage in conversation with visitors, all in service of providing the most welcoming and intimate environment possible.

Origami, the Japanese Tradition of Paper Folding

Origami, the Japanese Tradition of Paper Folding

Do you remember making your first paper airplane or paper crane? Although commonly known in Japan today as a childhood pastime, origami (折り紙) has evolved into a major medium for artistic expression, with leading artists transforming simple geometric shapes into awe-inspiring imaginative forms.

The Beauty & Diversity of Japanese Pottery

The Beauty & Diversity of Japanese Pottery

There is something really exciting about taking a shapeless substance and transforming it into something unique, dynamic and brilliant. Perhaps this explains why, for thousands of years, extremely skilled and inspiring Japanese artisans have been transforming clay and other natural substances into extraordinary works of art.  

Perspectives on Japan’s Pleasure-Seeking Past: Discovering Ukiyo-e

Perspectives on Japan’s Pleasure-Seeking Past: Discovering Ukiyo-e

Pleasure was serious business in 18th century Japan. It was so serious that even an expression was created to reflect its growing significance at the height of the Edo period (1615-1868). Ukiyo (“the floating world”) describes the hedonistic tastes and pleasure-seeking ambitions of the rising merchant class (chonin) in Edo (modern day Tokyo) and Kyoto.

Experiencing the art of Kabuki

Experiencing the art of Kabuki

The three syllables that make up the word “kabuki” (歌舞伎), mean “music”, “dance”, and “acting”, respectively. The whole word itself comes from an archaic verb kabuki, which means “to incline”, and references the actors' flamboyant clothes and actions. Since the kabuki’s founding, spectators were well aware that this new type of theater would be a strong deviation from noh traditions.

A brief guide to Naoshima

A brief guide to Naoshima

Naoshima 直島, a small island located in Setonaikai (a Japanese inland sea bordering 10 prefectures and containing numerous small islands), is only a ferry ride away from Hiroshima. After receiving many questions and requests for information regarding the island from our guests interested in art and design, we decided that a post should be dedicated to Naoshima.

The Art of Japanese Bonsai

The Art of Japanese Bonsai

The art of bonsai has existed for well over a thousand years. In China, the art of creating miniature landscapes, called penjing, has mythological origins dating back to as early as the 3rd century AD.  The process of growing miniature trees from source specimens is thought to have begun in Japan in the 7th century AD when Japanese Buddhists returning from China brought source plantings back with them.