Japanese Art

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Japanese Art
Whirlpool at Naruto Awa Province japanese art by Ando Hiroshige

Whirlpool at Naruto Awa Province

Known Names Japan Art

(Top Image: “Phoenix And Paulownia” by Tosa Mitsuyoshi)

Japanese art has an extensive history dating from ancient times. Japan’s art is categorized by locations of its governments. Japan art was greatly influenced by the Chinese and the introduction of Buddhism to Japanese culture.

Japanese Art

The history of Japanese art is extensive, dating back to ancient times. The eras of Japanese art are named for the locations of the different governments. The early artifacts of Japan were left by the Ainu tribe, who eventually influenced the Jomon people. These eras are called the Jomon and Yayoi periods. The first crowned emperor of Japan was Jimmu in 660 BC before the Yayoi people invaded Japan. The Jamon and Yoyoi people made bronze and copper weapons. Clay figurines and pottery vessels have also been found among the remnants of these civilizations. Later came the Haniwa people of the Kofun period, which existed around 250 BC. The artifacts of the Haniwa people include sculptures that were found in tombs and mirrors made of bronze. The Asuka period began when the Chinese brought Buddhism to Japan. At this point, Japanese art underwent a series of developments. The Chinese, whose art was more advanced, infused the Japanese culture with art and architecture techniques. Much of the Chinese influence may have reached Japan through Korea. As the Japanese fully embraced Buddhism, one of most significant periods of Japanese art emerged. This era is called the Nara period, and during this time, the Japanese adopted the style of the Chinese Tang dynasty. Nara was the capital of Japan after 710. The Nara period is responsible for many wooden temples, including today’s existing Buddhist temples. Zen Buddhism also changed Japanese styles of painting and other artworks. A wider variety of mediums was used as the art of Japan flourished during the Heian period, which lasted from 784 to 897. Musasaki Shikubu’sThe Tale of Genji, the first known novel, comes from the Heian period and portrays a refined culture and a place with garden art. The Fujiwara period, from 897 to 1185, further advanced the art of Japan. The Samurais and the Shogunate brought new life to Japanese artwork. The capital of Japan was, by then, at Kamakura. This era is known as the Kamakura period, which lasted from 1185 to 1332. The art turned toward a realistic trend during this era. This time also gave birth to Japanese calligraphy. The Kamakura period brought an end to the period of religious sculpture. Ink painting flourished after the capital of Japan returned to Kyoto, a time known as the Ashikaga, or Muromachi, period, which lasted from 1333 to 1573. Buddhist monks Shubun and Sesshu were famous during the Muromachi period. During the Momoyama period, from 1573 to 1615, art parted from religion as an age of luxury began. The capital of Japan moved to Tokyo, then known as Edo, during the Tokugawa, or Edo, period, which lasted from 1615 to 1868. During the Tokugawa period, Japan became nationalistic from being separated from the outside world. The Japanese are famous for the color prints produced during this time. The Japanese also advanced the production of textiles, lacquer and porcelain during the Tokugawa period.


  • Famous Beauties of Edoby Utomaro, 1792-1793
  • Ukiyo-e, woodblock printing, originated in the Edo period.
  • Lake Taisho in the Morningby Masamoto Mori, 1953
  • Ink painting flourished during the Ashikaga period.
  • Color prints flourished during the Tokugawa period.

Fun Facts

  • The Chinese and Zen Buddhism had profound influences on Japan art.

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Some Examples of Japanese Art Artwork

View Of Mountains And A Bridge From Eight Views Of The Xiao And Xiang Rivers Japanese artwork by Shokei

View Of Mountains And A Bridge From Eight Views Of The Xiao And Xiang Rivers

A Courtesan Raising Her Sleeve Japanese artwork by Utamaro Kitagawa

A Courtesan Raising Her Sleeve

November still life Japanese artwork by Sakai Hoitsu