Introduction to the Japanese culture: japanese language, visual arts (painting), calligraphy, sculpture, ukiyo-e, ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangement), performing arts, Japanese architecture, garden architecture, traditional Japanese clothing.
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theme: Japanese culture
Student of the 1 year
The culture of Japan has evolved greatly over millennia, from the country's prehistoric Jomon culture to its contemporary hybrid culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. After several waves of immigration from the continent and nearby Pacific islands (see History of Japan), the inhabitants of Japan experienced a long period of relative isolation from the outside world placeTokugawa shogunate until the arrival of "The Black Ships" and the Meiji era.
The Japanese language has always played a significant role in Japanese culture. The language is spoken mainly in Japan but also in some Japanese emigrant communities around the world. It is an agglutinative language and the sound inventory of Japanese is relatively small but has a lexically distinct pitch-accent system. Early Japanese is known largely on the basis of its state in the 8th century, when the three major works of Old Japanese were compiled. The earliest attestation of the Japanese language is in a Chinese document from 252 A.D.
Japanese is written with a combination of three scripts: hiragana, derived from the Chinese cursive script, katakana, derived as a shorthand from Chinese characters, and kanji, imported from China. The Latin alphabet, romaji, is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for company names and logos, advertising, and when inputting Japanese into a computer. The Hindu-Arabic numerals are generally used for numbers, but traditional Sino-Japanese numerals are also commonplace.
Visual arts. Painting
Painting has been an art in Japan for a very long time: the brush is a traditional writing tool, and the extension of that to its use as an artist's tool was probably natural. Chinese papermaking was introduced to Japan around the 7th century by Damjing and several monks of Goguryeo, later washi was developed from it. Native Japanese painting techniques are still in use today, as well as techniques adopted from continental Asia and from the West.
The flowing, brush-drawn Japanese language lends itself to complicated calligraphy. Calligraphic art is often too esoteric for Western audiences and therefore general exposure is very limited. However in East Asian countries, the rendering of text itself is seen as a traditional artform as well as a means of conveying written information. The written work can consist of phrases, poems, stories, or even single characters. The style and format of the writing can mimic the subject matter, even to the point of texture and stroke speed. In some cases it can take over one hundred attempts to produce the desired effect of a single character but the process of creating the work is considered as much an art as the end product itself.
This art form is known as `Shodo' (Џ‘“№) which literally means `the way of writing or calligraphy' or more commonly known as `Shuji' (ЏKЋљ) `learning how to write characters'.
Commonly confused with Calligraphy is the art form known as `Sumi-e' (–nЉG) literally means `ink painting' which is the art of painting a scene or object.
Guardian in Todaiji, Nara
Traditional Japanese sculptures mainly consisted of Buddhist images, such as Tathagata, Bodhisattva and Myo-o. The oldest sculpture in Japan is a wooden statue of Amitabha at the Zenko-ji temple. In the Nara period, Buddhist statues were made by the national government to boost its prestige. These examples are seen in present-day Nara and Kyoto, most notably a colossal bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana in the Todai-ji temple.
Wood has traditionally been used as the chief material in Japan, along with the traditional Japanese architectures. Statues are often lacquered, gilded, or brightly painted, although there are little traces on the surfaces. Bronze and other metals are also used. Other materials, such as stone and pottery, have had extremely important roles in the plebeian beliefs.
Ukiyo-e, literally "pictures of the floating world", is a genre of woodblock prints that exemplifies the characteristics of pre-Meiji Japanese art. Because these prints could be mass-produced, they were available to a wide cross-section of the Japanese populace -- those not wealthy enough to afford original paintings -- during their heyday, from the 17th to 20th century.
Ikebana (ђ¶‚Ї‰Ф?) is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. It has gained widespread international fame for its focus on harmony, color use, rhythm, and elegantly simple design. It is an art centered greatly on expressing the seasons, and is meant to act as a symbol to something greater than the flower itself. Traditionally, when third party marriages were more prominent and practiced in Japan, many Japanese women entering into a marriage learned to take up the art of Ikebana to be a more appealing and well-rounded lady. Today Ikebana is widely practiced in Japan, as well as around the world.
The four traditional theatres from Japan are noh, kyogen, kabuki and bunraku. Noh had its origins in the union of the sarugaku with music and dance made by Kanami and Zeami Motokiyo. Among the characteristic aspects of it are the masks, costumes and the stylized gestures, sometimes accompanied by a fan that can represent other objects. The noh programs are presented in alternation with the ones of kyogen, traditionally in number of five, but currently in groups of three. The kyogen, of humorous character, had older origin, in 8th century entertainment brought from China, developing itself in sarugaku. In kyogen masks are rarely used and even if the plays can be associated with the ones of noh, currently many are not. Kabuki appears in the beginning of the Edo period from the representations and dances of Izumo no Okuni in Kyoto. Due to prostitution of actresses of kabuki the participation of women in the plays was forbidden by the government in 1629 and the feminine characters had passed to be represented only by men (onnagata). Recent attempts to reintroduce actresses in kabuki had not been well accepted. Another characteristic of kabuki is the use of makeup for the actors in historical plays (kumadori). Japanese puppet theater bunraku developed in the same period that kabuki in a competition and contribution relation involving actors and authors. The origin of bunraku however is older, lies back in the Heian period. In 1914 appeared the Takarazuka Revue a company solely composed by women who introduced the revue in Japan.
Japanese architecture has as long a history as any other aspect of Japanese culture. Originally heavily influenced by Chinese architecture, it also develops many differences and aspects which are indigenous to India. Examples of traditional architecture are seen at Temples, Shinto shrines and castles in Kyoto, and Nara. Some of these buildings are constructed with traditional gardens, which are influenced from Zen ideas.
Some modern architects, such as Yoshio Taniguchi and Tadao Ando are known for their amalgamation of Japanese traditional and Western architectural influences. japan culture art
Garden architecture is as important as building architecture and very much influenced by the same historical and religious background. Although today, ink monochrome painting still is the art form most closely associated with Zen Buddhism. A primary design principle of a garden is the creation of a landscape based on, or at least greatly influenced by, the three-dimensional monochrome ink (sumi) landscraper painting, sumi-e or suibokuga.
In Japan the garden has the same status as a work of art .
One of the major points of difference with the Furisode is the long sleeves. Furisode are mainly worn for major social functions such as wedding ceremonies or tea ceremonies until they get married. Depending on the quality of the materials, design and workmanship, a Furisode normally costs around $15,000 for the whole outfit.
The second Monday in January is a public holiday called 'Adult Day' and many young women attend a ceremony wearing their Furisode kimono.
The style of kimono also changes with the season, in spring kimonos are vibrantly colored with springtime flowers embroidered on them. In the fall, kimono colors are not as bright, with fall patterns. Flannel kimonos are ideal for winter, they are a heavier material to help keep you warm.
One of the more elegant kimonos is the uchikake, a long silk overgarment worn by the bride in a wedding ceremony. The uchikake is commonly embellished with birds or flowers using silver and gold thread.
Kimonos do not come in specific sizes as most western dresses do. The sizes are only approximate, and a special technique is used to fit the dress appropriately.
The obi is a very important part of the kimono. Obi is a decorative sash that is worn by Japanese men and women, although it can be worn with many different traditional outfits, it is most commonly worn with the kimono. Most women wear a very large elaborate obi, while men typically don a more thin and conservative obi.
Most Japanese men only wear the kimono at home or in a very laid back environment, however it is acceptable for a man to wear the kimono when he is entertaining guests in his home. For a more formal event a Japanese man might wear the haori and hakama, a half coat and divided skirt. The hakama is tied at the waist, over the kimono and ends near the ankle. Hakama were initially intended for men only, but today it is acceptable for women to wear them as well. Hakama can be worn with types of kimono, excluding the summer version, yukata. The lighter and simpler casual-wear version of kimono often worn in summer or at home is called yukata.
Formal kimonos are typically worn in several layers, with number of layers, visibility of layers, sleeve length, and choice of pattern dictated by social status, season, and the occasion for which the kimono is worn. Because of the mass availability, most Japanese people wear western style clothing in their everyday life, and kimonos are mostly worn for festivals, and special events. As a result, most young women in Japan are not able to put the kimono on themselves. Many older women offer classes to teach these young women how to don the traditional clothing.
Happi is another type of traditional clothing, but it is not famous worldwide like the kimono. A happi (or happy coat) is a straight sleeved coat that is typically imprinted with the family crest, and was a common coat for firefighters to wear.
Japan also has very distinct footwear. Tabi, an ankle high sock, is often worn with the kimono. Tabi are designed to be worn with geta a type of thonged footwear. Geta are sandals mounted on wooden blocks held to the foot by a piece of fabric that slides between the toes. Geta are worn both by men and women with the kimono or yukata.
Contemporary Japanese weddings are celebrated in variety of ways including Shinto, Buddhist, or Christian style. Many contain elements from traditional Japanese and western culture. The rituals of cake cutting, exchanging rings and honeymoons are a few of the western traditions that have been adopted. The Japanese wedding I saw took place at a Shinto Shrine. The bride wore a wedding kimono of white silk and the groom wore a black kimono decorated with his family crest in white. Usually, only the bride and group, their immediate families, and the go-betweens attend the religious part of the Shinto wedding. A Shinto priest first offers prayers to the deities, then the groom makes his marriage oath. Next, the couple performs the Sansan-kudo exchange of nuptial cups. San-san-ku means 3 * 3 = 9 and the small, medium and large cups are each brought to the lips three times with one sip each time.
Through a long culinary past, the Japanese have developed sophisticated and refined cuisine. In recent years, Japanese food has become fashionable and popular in the U.S., Europe and many other areas. Dishes such as sushi, tempura, and teriyaki are some of the foods that are commonly known. The healthy Japanese diet is often believed to be related to the longevity of Japanese people.
Drinking the tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century, by the Buddhist monk Eichu (‰i’‰), who had returned to Japan from China. This is the first documented evidence of tea in Japan. In China, tea had already been known, according to legend, for more than a thousand years. The form of tea popular in China in the era when Eichu went for studies was "cake tea" (’c’ѓ, dancha?)--tea compressed into a nugget in the same manner as Pu-erh. This then would be ground in a mortar, and the resulting ground tea decocted together with various other herbs and/or flavorings.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_tea_ceremony - cite_note-2#cite_note-2
In the early 9th century, Chinese author Lu Yu wrote the The Classic of Tea, a treatise on tea focusing on its cultivation and preparation. Lu Yu's life had been heavily influenced by Buddhism, particularly the Zen-Chan school. His ideas would have a strong influence in the development of the Japanese tea ceremony.
Around the end of the 12th century, the style of tea preparation called "tencha" (“_’ѓ?), in which matcha was placed in a bowl, hot water poured into the bowl, and the tea and hot water whipped together, was introduced by Eisai, another Japanese monk returning from China. He also brought tea seeds back with him, which eventually produced tea that was of the most superb quality in all of Japan.
Tea equipment is called chadogu (’ѓ“№‹п). A wide range of chadogu is available and different styles and motifs are used for different events and in different seasons. All the tools for tea ceremony are handled with exquisite care. They are scrupulously cleaned before and after each use and before storing, and some are handled only with gloved hands.
By the 16th century, tea drinking had spread to all levels of society in Japan.
In the long feudal period governed by the samurai class, some methods that were used to train warriors were developed into well-ordered martial arts, in modern times referred to collectively as Koryu. Examples include Kenjutsu, Kyudo, Sojutsu, Jujutsu and Sumo, all of which were established in the Edo period. After the rapid social change in the Meiji Restoration, some martial arts changed to modern sports, Gendai Budo. Judo was developed by Kano Jigoro, who studied some sects of Jujutsu. These sports are still widely practiced in present day Japan and other countries.
Baseball, football (soccer) and other popular western sports were imported to Japan in the Meiji period. These sports are commonly practiced in schools along with traditional martial arts.
The most popular professional sports in today's Japan are Sumo, baseball and football (soccer). In addition, many semi-professional organizations, such as volleyball, basketball and rugby union, are sponsored by private companies.
The game of `Go' has its origin in China 4,000 years ago. It is more than 1,300 years since `Go' was introduced to Japan. During these centuries, the ancient Chinese form of `Go' has been modified and improved by the Japanese `Go' as it is played today is an indoor game which has no further room for improvement. It has taken roots deep in the life of the people of Japan. The total number of people who play `Go' is estimated to be about seven million.
There are many `Go' players outside Japan - a fact which should be a source of joy for us. Now, what kind of game is `Go?'
A Game for Winning Territory
`Go' is a game which two players contest for territory. One of the two players uses black stones and the other white stones to mark out their respective territories. The player who has captured more territory at the end of the game is the winner. Since the players are to fight against each other over territory within a limited space, the game involves many varied forms of contest. This is what makes `Go' interesting.
Japanese popular culture not only reflects the attitudes and concerns of the present but also provides a link to the past. Popular films, television programs, manga, and music all developed from older artistic and literary traditions, and many of their themes and styles of presentation can be traced to traditional art forms. Contemporary forms of popular culture, much like the traditional forms, provide not only entertainment but also an escape for the contemporary Japanese from the problems of an industrial world. When asked how they spent their leisure time, 80 percent of a sample of men and women surveyed by the government in 1986 said they averaged about two and one-half hours per weekday watching television, listening to the radio, and reading newspapers or magazines. Some 16 percent spent an average of two and one-quarter hours a day engaged in hobbies or amusements. Others spent leisure time participating in sports, socializing, and personal study. Teenagers and retired people reported more time spent on all of these activities than did other groups.
Many anime and manga are becoming very popular around the world, as well as Japanese video games, music, fashion, and game shows; this has made Japan an "entertainment superpower" along with the United States and European Union.
In the late 1980s, the family was the focus of leisure activities, such as excursions to parks or shopping districts. Although Japan is often thought of as a hard-working society with little time for leisure, the Japanese seek entertainment wherever they can. It is common to see Japanese commuters riding the train to work, enjoying their favorite manga, or listening through earphones to the latest in popular music on portable music players.
A wide variety of types of popular entertainment are available. There is a large selection of music, films, and the products of a huge comic book industry, among other forms of entertainment, from which to choose. Game centers, bowling alleys, and karaoke are popular hangout places for teens while older people may play shogi or go in specialized parlors.
Together, the publishing, film/video, music/audio, and game industries in Japan make up the growing Japanese content industry, which, in 2006, was estimated to be worth close to 14 trillion Yen (USD$ 120 billion.)
Japanese main holidays:
1 .01- New Year
2nd Monday of January - the of adults
20.03 - day of spring;
29.04 -day of greenery;
3.05 - day of Constitution
5.05 - day of children;
20.07 - day of the sea;
15.09 - day of retired
23.09 - day of autumn;
2nd Monday of October - day of health and sport;
3.11 - day of culture;
23.12 - birthday of Emperor.
So, to sum up, Japanese culture is very interesting and with very old traditions.
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