Japanese aesthetics

Japanese aesthetics

The study of Japanese aesthetics involves the standards of what is considered tasteful or beautiful in Japanese culture. While seen as a philosophy in Western societies, the concept of aesthetics in Japan is seen as an integral part of daily life. [cite web | url=http://www.aesthetics-online.org/ideas/miller.html | title=Teaching Japanese Aesthetics | accessdate=2007-04-01] Japanese aesthetics encompass a variety of ideals; some of these are traditional while others are modern and sometimes influenced from other cultures. [cite web | url=http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/japanese-aesthetics/ | title=Japanese Aesthetics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) | accessdate=2007-04-01]

Religious Aspects

From a religious aspect, Japanese aesthetic ideals are most heavily influenced by Buddhism. [cite web | url=http://www.art.unt.edu/ntieva/artcurr/asian/wabisabi.html | title=North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts | accessdate=2007-04-01] After the introduction of Western notions in Japan, however, these aesthetics ideals have been re-examined with Western values, by both Japanese and non-Japanese. Therefore, recent interpretations of the aesthetics ideals inevitably reflect Judeo-Christian perspectives and Western philosophy. [cite web | url=http://www.mongabay.com/reference/country_studies/japan/SOCIETY.html | title=Japan - SOCIETY | accessdate=2007-04-01]

Contrary to Western traditions, Japanese aesthetic ideals do not have a concept of the Creator (the Judeo-Christian God). Gods (in Shinto) and Buddhas (in Buddhism) are not creators of the world or nature. Rather, nature is seen as an individual entity that is to be admired and appreciated. The appreciation of nature has been fundamental to many Japanese aesthetic ideals, "arts," and other cultural elements. [cite web| url=http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/japan/japanworkbook/religion/shinto.htm | title=Religion and Philosophy: Shinto ] In this respect, the notion of "art" (or its conceptual equivalent) is also quite different from Western tradition. Japanese art does not rigorously conquer nature, but instead, it aims to incorporate nature, and to be incorporated into nature.


:"Main article:" "Wabi-sabi""Wabi-sabi" refers to the Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. This view, which is rooted in Buddhist ideals, particularly values imperfection and incompleteness, and considers these qualities to be beautiful. [cite web | url=http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm | title = What Is Wabi-Sabi? | accessdate=2007-04-01]


:"Main article:" "Iki (aesthetic ideal)"The phrase "iki" is generally used in Japanese culture to describe qualities that are aesthetically appealing. While similar to "wabi-sabi" in that it disregards perfection, "iki" is a broad term that encompasses various characteristics. [cite web | url=http://global.mitsubishielectric.com/tasteofjapan/imprints/iki/index01_b.html | title=imprints | accessdate=2007-04-01]


Geidō refers to traditional Japanese "arts." Some are "kadō" (Japanese flower arrangement), "shodō" (Japanese calligraphy), "Sadō" (Japanese tea ceremony), and "yakimono" (Japanese pottery).


nihongo|Yūgen|幽玄| is an important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. The exact translation of the word depends on the context. In the Chinese philosophical texts the term was taken from, yūgen meant "dim", "deep" or "mysterious". In the criticism of Japanese waka poetry, it was used to describe the subtle profundity of things that are only vaguely suggested by the poems, and was also the name of a style of poetry (one of the ten orthodox styles delineated by Fujiwara no Teika in his treatises). In the treatises on the Noh theatre by Zeami Motokiyo it refers to the grace and elegance of the dress and behaviour of court ladies.cite book
last = Yamazaki
first = Masakazu
coauthors = J. Thomas Rimer
year = 1984
title = On the Art of the No Drama : The Major Treatises of Zeami
publisher = Princeton University Press
location = Princeton, NJ
id = ISBN 0-691-10154-X

In theatre, this refers to Zeami’s interpretation of “refined elegance” in the performance of Noh. Also extended to mean “a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe… and the sad beauty of human suffering” [(Ortolani, 325). Ortolani, Benito. The Japanese Theatre. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1995] .

ee also

*Cuteness in Japanese culture


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