JOMON CULTURE (ca. 10,500 - ca. 300BC)

The Jomon period, which encompasses a great expanse of time, constitutes Japan's Neolithic period. Its name is derived from the "cord markings" that characterize the ceramics made during this time. Jomon people were semi-sedentary, living mostly in pit dwellings arranged around central open spaces, and obtained their food by gathering, fishing, and hunting. While the many excavations of Jomon sites have added to our knowledge of specific artifacts, they have not helped to resolve certain fundamental questions concerning the people of the protoliterate era, such as their ethnic classification and the origin of their language. The increased production of female figurines and phallic images of stone, as well as the practice of burying the deceased in shell mounds, suggest a rise in ritual practices. All Jomon pots were made by hand, without the aid of a wheel, the potter building up the vessel from the bottom with coil upon coil of soft clay. As in all other Neolithic cultures, women produced these early potteries. The clay was mixed with a variety of adhesive materials, including mica, lead, fibers, and crushed shells. After the vessel was formed, tools were employed to smooth both the outer and interior surfaces. When completely dry, it was fired in an outdoor bonfire at a temperature of no more than about 900° C.

Because the Jomon period lasted so long and is so culturally diverse, historians and archaeologists often divide it into the following phases:
INCIPIENT JOMON (ca. 10,500–8000 B.C.).
This period marks the transition between Paleolithic and Neolithic ways of life. Archaeological findings indicate that people lived in simple surface dwellings and fed themselves through hunting and gathering. They produced deep pottery cooking containers with pointed bottoms and rudimentary cord markings—among the oldest examples of pottery known in the world.
Initial Jomon (ca. 8000–5000 B.C.).
By this period, the gradual climatic warming that had begun around 10,000 B.C. sufficiently raised sea levels, so that the southern islands of Shikoku and Kyushu were separated from the main island of Honshu. The rise in temperature also increased the food supply, which was derived from the sea as well as by hunting animals and gathering plants, fruits, and seeds. Evidence of this diet is found in shell mounds, or ancient refuse heaps. Food and other necessities of life were acquired and processed with the use of stone tools such as grinding rocks, knives, and axes.
EARLY JOMON (ca. 5000–2500 B.C.).
The contents of huge shell mounds show that a high percentage of people's daily diet continued to come from the oceans. Similarities between pottery produced in Kyushu and contemporary Korea suggest that regular commerce existed between the Japanese islands and Korean peninsula. The inhabitants of the Japanese islands lived in square-shaped pithouses that were clustered in small villages. A variety of handicrafts, including cord-marked earthenware cooking and storage vessels, woven baskets, bone needles, and stone tools, were produced for daily use.
MIDDLE JOMON (ca. 2500–1500 B.C.).
This period marked the high point of the Jomon culture in terms of increased population and production of handicrafts. The warming climate peaked in temperature during this era, causing a movement of communities into the mountain regions. Refuse heaps indicate that the people were sedentary for longer periods and lived in larger communities; they fished, hunted animals such as deer, bear, rabbit, and duck, and gathered nuts, berries, mushrooms, and parsley. Early attempts at plant cultivation may date to this period. The increased production of female figurines and phallic images of stone, as well as the practice of burying the deceased in shell mounds, suggest a rise in ritual practices.
LATE JOMON (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.).
As the climate began to cool, the population migrated out of the mountains and settled closer to the coast, especially along Honshu's eastern shores. Greater reliance on seafood inspired innovations in fishing technology, such as the development of the toggle harpoon and deep-sea fishing techniques. This process brought communities into closer contact, as indicated by greater similarity among artifacts. Circular ceremonial sites comprised of assembled stones, in some cases numbering in the thousands, and larger numbers of figurines show a continued increase in the importance and enactment of rituals.
Final Jomon (ca. 1000–300 B.C.).
As the climate cooled and food became less abundant, the population declined dramatically. Because people were assembled in smaller groups, regional differences became more pronounced. As part of the transition to the Yayoi culture, it is believed that domesticated rice, grown in dry beds or swamps, was introduced into Japan at this time.

YAYOI CULTURE (ca 4th century B.C. - 3rd century AD)

Beginning about the fourth century B.C., Jomon culture was gradually replaced by the more advanced Yayoi culture, which takes its name from the site in Tokyo where pottery of this period was first discovered in 1884. The new culture first appeared in western Japan and then spread east and north to Honshu. While some aspects of Yayoi society evolved from the Jomon, more important to its development was the technique of wet-rice cultivation, which is thought to have been introduced to Japan from Korea and southeastern China sometime between 1000 B.C. and the first century A.D. In keeping with an agrarian lifestyle, the people of the Yayoi culture lived in permanently settled communities, made up of thatched houses clustered into villages.
Over time, the Yayoi people grouped themselves into clan-nations, which by the first century numbered more than a hundred. In striking contrast to Jomon pottery, Yayoi vessels have clean, functional shapes. Nonetheless, the technical process of pottery making remained essentially the same, and in all likelihood women using the coil method continued to be the primary producers. Two technical differences, however, are significant: the fine clay surfaces of Yayoi vessels were smoothed, and clay slip was sometimes applied over the body to make it less porous. Many Yayoi vessels resemble pots found in Korea, and some scholars have proposed that the Yayoi style originated in that land, arriving first in northern Kyushu and gradually spreading northeastward. Nevertheless, some pieces clearly show the influence of Jomon ceramics, leading others to speculate that Yayoi wares were the product of an indigenous evolution from the less elaborate Jomon wares of northern Kyushu.
Metallurgy was also introduced from the Asian mainland during this time. Bronze and iron were used to make weapons, armor, tools, and ritual implements such as bells (dotaku). The latter were frequently decorated with hatched lines, triangles, spirals, and geometric patterns, although representations of domesticated animals and scenes of daily life appear on some examples. A class society began to emerge during the Yayoi period. Over time, the Yayoi people grouped themselves into clan-nations, which by the first century numbered more than a hundred. Throughout the second and third centuries, the clans fought among themselves until the Yamato clan gained dominance in the fifth century.

KOFUN PERIOD (ca. 3rd century - 538)

The Kofun period is named after the tomb mounds that were built for members of the ruling class during this time. The practice of building sepulchral mounds and burying treasures with the dead was transmitted to Japan from the Asian continent about the third century A.D. In the late fourth and fifth century, mounds of monumental proportions were built in great numbers, symbolizing the increasingly unified power of the government. In the late fifth century, power fell to the Yamato clan, which won control over much of Honshu island and the northern half of Kyushu and eventually established Japan's imperial line.
The practice of building sepulchral mounds and burying treasures with the dead was transmitted to Japan from the Asian continent about the third century A.D.Burial chambers and sarcophagi in the early tombs were simple and unadorned. Painted decorations began to appear by the sixth century. The bodies of the dead were interred in large wooden coffins; burial goods–bronze mirrors, tools, weapons, personal ornaments, horse trappings, and clay vessels–accompanied the coffins into the tomb chambers. Burial mounds were circled with stones. Packed in rows at the base, scattered on the crest of the knoll, or placed on the sloping sides of the mound were haniwa (clay cylinders). These hollow clay tubes served as stands for offering vessels when the tombs were the focus of community ritual. Although most haniwa are unadorned, some are topped with sculptures.
A notable contribution to pottery during the Kofun period was Sueki ware, first produced in the mid-fifth century. Sueki pottery is usually made of blue-gray clay and is often thin-bodied and hard, having been fired at temperatures of roughly 1,100 to 1,200° C, a range similar to that used to produce modern stoneware and porcelain. Although the roots of Sueki reach back to ancient China, its direct precursor is the grayware of the Three Kingdoms period in Korea. Technically more advanced than Jomon and Yayoi pottery, Sueki marks a turning point in the history of Japanese ceramics. The potter's wheel was used for the first time, and Sueki were fired in a Korean-style anagama kiln, made of a single tunnel-like chamber half buried in the ground along the slope of a hill. Green glaze, evolving from the appearance of natural ash glaze that resulted from accidental effects inside the kiln, was intentionally applied to ceremonial objects beginning in the second half of the seventh century.

ASUKA and NARA PERIODS (538 - 794)

Japan's first historical epoch–the Asuka period, named for the area near Nara where the court resided–coincides with the introduction of Buddhism into the country. This new religion contained many ideas and images that were radically different from the concerns of native Shinto. Along with Buddhism, other important foreign concepts and practices, including the Chinese written language, the practice of recording history, the use of coins, and the standardization of weights and measures–all of which supported the creation of a single-ruler state based on the Chinese model of a centralized, bureaucratic government–were imported from China and Korea. Taken together, these imports had a profound impact on all aspects of Japanese society.
Until the eighth century, a new capital city was founded and a new imperial palace constructed each time a new emperor succeeded to the throne. The reorganization of the Japanese court into a more complex system based on the Chinese model, whereby the emperor ruled the entire country through hand-picked governors who administered laws and extracted taxes, intensified the desire for a permanent capital. Heijokyo in Nara was chosen to serve this purpose in 710. Also inspired by Chinese precedent, Japan's first histories, the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, were compiled at this time. Chinese precedent can again be seen in the decision by the Japanese court to adopt Buddhism as the official religion and begin the faith's most active period of imperial patronage, constructing large temples in the capital, as well as many others in the provinces throughout the country.
Only three-quarters of a century after Nara was built at enormous cost, the capital was moved again, motivated at least in part by a desire to escape the burdensome pressure of the Buddhist temples, which had grown wealthy and powerful. The excessive influence and avarice of the Buddhist establishment, the imposition of heavy taxes of rice, products, and corvée labor, and an increase in challenges to the authority of the central government by provincial officials led to social and political unrest in the last decades of this period.

HEIAN PERIOD (794 - 1185)

The new capital was established in Heian-kyo (capital of "peace and tranquility," now known as Kyoto) in 794. Like Nara, it was laid out according to a grid pattern, following the Chinese precedent. Kyoto remained the nation's capital, albeit at times in name only, until 1867. In Kyoto, the court enjoyed a relatively long period of peace and political strength lasting nearly 400 years, until 1185. One of the most influential groups of the Heian era was the aristocratic Fujiwara family. The Fujiwaras succeeded in dominating the royal family by marrying female clan members to emperors and then ruling on behalf of the offspring of these unions when they assumed the throne. Not only did the powerful aristocratic Fujiwaras control the politics of this era, but they also dominated the cultural milieu. Fujiwara courtiers encouraged an aura of courtly sophistication and sensitivity in all of their activities, including the visual and literary arts, and even religious practice. This refined sensibility and interest in the arts is clearly expressed in the literary classic The Tale of Genji, written by a member of the Fujiwara clan.
Fujiwara courtiers encouraged an aura of courtly sophistication and sensitivity in all of their activities, including the visual and literary arts, and even religious practice. After absorbing so much from the continent over several centuries, the Japanese began to experience a growing sense of self-confidence and appreciation of their own land and heritage. Although trade expeditions and Buddhist pilgrims continued to travel between Japan and the continent, the court decided to terminate official relations with China. Among the important cultural developments of this time of internal cultural concentration were the kana script, which facilitated the writing of Japanese; the cultivation of waka poetry and other distinctive literary forms, for instance, narrative tales (monogatari) and diaries (nikki); and a characteristically Japanese painting style, yamato-e. The term yamato-e, which means "Japanese pictures," was first used in the Heian period to distinguish works painted in a Japanese style from those executed in the Chinese manner, or kara-e. Traditional yamato-e is characterized by native subject matter, often taken from literature, and themes associated with famous places or the four seasons. Stylistically it features striking compositions, the frequent use of flat planes of rich color, and a number of codified pictorial devices such as fukinuki yatai ("room with roof blown away").
Yamato-e was used to depict native scenes or illustrate native literature, in contrast to kara-e, or Chinese-style, painting, which was used for scenery and tales of China. Since few examples of yamato-e painted before the mid-twelfth century survive, it is difficult to determine the early stylistic differences between yamato-e and kara-e. Documents indicate, however, that Kyoto residents were deeply moved by the subtle seasonal changes that colored the hills and mountains surrounding them and regulated the patterns of daily life. By the second half of the twelfth century, domination by the Fujiwaras had waned and political power had shifted from the nobility in Kyoto to military landowners in the provinces. In 1185, one of two powerful warrior clans, the Genji, defeated their chief rivals, the Heike, and succeeding in establishing in Kamakura a government controlled for the first time in history by military generals, or shoguns.


The Kamakura period was marked by a gradual shift in power from the nobility to landowning military men in the provinces. This era was a time of dramatic transformation in the politics, society, and culture of Japan. The bakufu, or government by warrior chieftains (shogun) or their regents, controlled the country from their base in Kamakura, near modern Tokyo. Because the emperor remained the titular head of state in his capital in Kyoto, a binary system of government, whereby emperors reigned but shoguns ruled, was established and endured for the next seven centuries. The Kamakura and Nanbokucho eras were remarkable for the shift that occurred in the Japanese aesthetic. The highly refined sensibilities of the superceded aristocracy did not interest the new patrons.
In 1333, a coalition of supporters of Emperor Go-Daigo (1288–1339), who sought to restore political power to the throne, toppled the Kamakura regime. Unable to rule effectively, this new royal government was short-lived. In 1336, a member of a branch family of the Minamoto clan, Ashikaga Takauji (1305–1358), usurped control and drove Go-Daigo from Kyoto. Takauji then set a rival on the throne and established a new military government in Kyoto. Meanwhile, Go-Daigo traveled south and took refuge in Yoshino. There he established the Southern Court, in contrast to the rival Northern Court supported by Takauji. This time of constant strife that lasted from 1336 to 1392 is known as the Nanbokucho period (Period of Southern and Northern Courts).
The Kamakura and Nanbokucho eras were remarkable for the shift that occurred in the Japanese aesthetic. The highly refined sensibilities of the superceded aristocracy did not interest the new patrons. Instead, the warrior class favored artists who treated their subjects with a direct honesty and virile energy that matched their own. What followed, then, was an age of realism unparalleled before the late eighteenth century. This renaissance was not limited to art. Religious movements experienced a similar resurgence, and reform and counter-reform currents animated and transmuted Kamakura Buddhism. While the courtly and warrior elites perpetuated the Heian traditions of Amida worship and Esoteric Buddhism, for the first time in its history Buddhism was also actively proselytized among the Japanese masses.

MUROMACHI PERIOD (1392 - 1573)

The era when members of the Ashikaga family occupied the position of shogun is known as the Muromachi period, named after the district in Kyoto where their headquarters was located. Although the Ashikaga clan occupied the shogunate for nearly 200 years, they never succeeded in extending their political control as far as did the Kamakura bakufu. Because provincial warlords, called daimyo, retained a large degree of power, they were able to strongly influence political events and cultural trends during this time. Rivalry between daimyo, whose power increased in relation to the central government as time passed, generated instability, and conflict soon erupted, culminating in the Onin War (1467–77). With the resulting destruction of Kyoto and the collapse of the shogunate's power, the country was plunged into a century of warfare and social chaos known as the Sengoku, the Age of the Country at War, which extended from the last quarter of the fifteenth to the end of the sixteenth century.
Despite the social and political upheaval, the Muromachi period was economically and artistically innovative. This epoch saw the first steps in the establishment of modern commercial, transportation, and urban developments. Despite the social and political upheaval, the Muromachi period was economically and artistically innovative. This epoch saw the first steps in the establishment of modern commercial, transportation, and urban developments. Contact with China, which had been resumed in the Kamakura period, once again enriched and transformed Japanese thought and aesthetics. One of the imports that was to have a far-reaching impact was Zen Buddhism. Although known in Japan since the seventh century, Zen was enthusiastically embraced by the military class beginning in the thirteenth century and went on to have a profound effect on all aspects of national life, from government and commerce to the arts and education.
Kyoto, which, as the imperial capital, had never ceased to exert an enormous influence on the country's culture, once again became the seat of political power under the Ashikaga shoguns. The private villas that the Ashikaga shoguns built there served as elegant settings for the pursuit of art and culture. While tea drinking had been brought to Japan from China in earlier centuries, in the fifteenth century, a small coterie of highly cultivated men, influenced by Zen ideals, developed the basic principles of the tea (chanoyu) aesthetic. At its highest level, chanoyu involves an appreciation of garden design, architecture, interior design, calligraphy, painting, flower arranging, the decorative arts, and the preparation and service of food. These same enthusiastic patrons of the tea ceremony also lavished support on renga (linked-verse poetry) and No dance-drama, a subtle, slow-moving stage performance featuring masked and elaborately costumed actors.

MOMOYAMA PERIOD (1573 - 1615)

With the decline of Ashikaga power in the 1560s, the feudal barons, or daimyos, began their struggle for control of Japan. The ensuing four decades of constant warfare are known as the Momoyama (Peach Hill) period. The name derives from the site, in a Kyoto suburb, on which Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536–1598) built his Fushimi Castle. Unity was gradually restored through the efforts of three warlords. The first, Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582), took control of Kyoto and deposed the last Ashikaga shogun through military might and political acuity. He was followed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who continued the campaign to reunite Japan. Peace was finally restored by one of Hideyoshi's generals, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616).
The decorative style that is the hallmark of Momoyama art had its inception in the early sixteenth century and lasted well into the seventeenth. On the one hand, the art of this period was characterized by a robust, opulent, and dynamic style, with gold lavishly applied to architecture, furnishings, paintings, and garments. The ostentatiously decorated fortresses built by the daimyo for protection and to flaunt their newly acquired power exemplified this grandeur. On the other hand, the military elite also supported a counter-aesthetic of rustic simplicity, most fully expressed in the form of the tea ceremony that favored weathered, unpretentious, and imperfect settings and utensils.
During this era, the attention of the Japanese was more than usually drawn beyond its shores. In addition to the continued trade with and travel to and from China and Korea, Toyotomi Hideyoshi instigated two devastating invasions of the Korean peninsula with the ultimate goal of invading China. The arrival of Portuguese and Dutch merchants and Catholic missionaries brought an awareness of different religions, new technologies, and previously unknown markets and goods to Japanese society. Over time, these foreign influences blended with native Japanese culture in myriad and long-lasting ways.

THE EDO PERIOD (1615 - 1868)

In the harshly controlled feudal society governed for over 250 years by the descendants of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616), creativity came not from its leaders, a conservative military class, but from the two lower classes in the Confucian social hierarchy, the artisans and merchants. Although officially denigrated, they were free to reap the economic and social benefits of this prosperous age. The tea ceremony, which had been adopted by every class during the Momoyama period, provided the medium in which literary and artistic traditions of the past were assimilated and transformed by highly cultivated men of both the bourgeoisie and the court. By the late 1630s, contact with the outside world was cut off through official prohibition of foreigners. In Japan's self-imposed isolation, traditions of the past were revived and refined, and ultimately parodied and transformed in the flourishing urban societies of Kyoto and Edo. Restricted trade with Chinese and Dutch merchants was permitted in Nagasaki, and it spurred development of Japanese porcelain and provided an opening for Ming literati culture to filter into artistic circles of Kyoto and, later, Edo.
By the end of the seventeenth century, three distinct modes of creative expression flourished. The renaissance of Heian culture accomplished by aristocrats and cultivated Kyoto townsmen was perpetuated in the painting and crafts of the school that later came to be called Rinpa. In urban Edo, which assumed a distinctive character with its revival after a devastating fire in 1657, a witty, irreverent expression surfaced in the literary and visual arts, giving rise to the kabuki theater and the well-known woodblock prints of the "floating world," or ukiyo-e. In the eighteenth century, a Japanese response to the few threads of Chinese literati culture, introduced by Ming Chinese monks at Manpuku-ji south of Kyoto, resulted in a new style known as bunjin-ga ("literati painting"), or nanga ("painting of the southern school") after the Ming term for literati painting. Throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, these various styles were embraced by Japanese artists and artisans as distinct but nonexclusive and complementary modes of expression.


From ancient times to the present, the Japanese people have celebrated the beauty of the seasons and the poignancy of their inevitable evanescence through the many festivals and rituals that fill their year—from the welcoming of spring at the lunar New Year to picnics under the blossoming cherry trees to offerings made to the harvest moon. Poetry provided the earliest artistic outlet for the expression of these impulses. Painters and artisans in turn formed images of visual beauty in response to seasonal themes and poetic inspiration. In this way, artists in Japan created meditations on the fleeting seasons of life and, through them, expressed essential truths about the nature of human experience.
This sensitivity to seasonal change is an important part of Shinto, Japan's native belief system. Since ancient times, Shinto has focused on the cycles of the earth and the annual agrarian calendar. This awareness is manifested in seasonal festivals and activities. Similarly, seasonal references are found everywhere in the Japanese literary and visual arts. Nature appears as a source of inspiration in the tenth-century Kokinshu (Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems), the earliest known official anthology of native poetry (rather than Chinese verse). These poems, produced by courtiers who embraced a highly refined aesthetic sensibility, not only celebrated the sensual appeal of elements of the natural world, but also imbued them with human emotions. Melancholy sentiments, invoked by a sense of time passing, loss, and disappointment, tended to be the most common emotional notes. This attitude can be seen in such visual arts as Buddhist and Shinto paintings of the Heian period that include lovely but short-lived blossoming cherry trees. Autumnal and winter scenes and related seasonal references, such as chrysanthemums and persimmons growing on trees that have already lost their foliage, are eloquent expressions of this same sentiment.
A distinctive Japanese convention is to depict a single environment transitioning from spring to summer to autumn to winter in one painting. For example, spring might be indicated by a few blossoming trees or plants and summer by a hazy and humid atmosphere and densely foliated trees, while a flock of geese typically suggests autumn and snow, and barren trees evoke winter. (Because this convention was so common, seasonal attributes could be quite subtle.) In this way, Japanese painters expressed not only their fondness for this natural cycle but also captured an awareness of the inevitability of change, a fundamental Buddhist concept.
The confluence of Shinto and Buddhism in the use of seasonal references demonstrates the central position of this practice in Japanese culture. As indicated above, cherry blossoms can be found in pictures illustrating Buddhist as well as Shinto concepts, with both expressing the beauty and brevity of nature. Similarly, folding screens decorated with ink monochrome paintings showing a transition from one season to the next initially were placed in the private quarters of Buddhist monks. Ritual implements and decorative items used in Buddhist temples and practice are often covered with flowers, birds, and other scenes from nature.
While the pictorial compositions that encompass all four seasons together present a broad view, more compact versions also appear. During the Momoyama and Edo periods, seasonal flowers and plants such as plum blossoms, irises, and morning glories became the entire focus of painting compositions. Similarly, decorative works such as lacquerware containers, kimonos, and ceramic vessels are frequently ornamented in this way. When natural elements are employed as decorative motifs, they are frequently stylized to heighten the ornamental effect. Once again, these visual scenes often have literary references, heightening the image's mood and cultural meaning.


The Edo period was a time of relative peace administered by a conservative military government. In order to encourage stability, and influenced by a revived interest in Confucian mores, the Tokugawa regime segregated society into four classes: warriors, farmers, artisans, and—at the bottom of the heap—merchants. Seeking to control public behavior, the Tokugawa shogunate set aside walled areas in all major cities for the establishment of brothels, teahouses, and theaters. In these districts all classes co-mingled, and money and style dominated. Edo-period cities contained newly rich townspeople, mostly merchants and artisans known as chonin, who gained economic strength by taking advantage of the dramatic expansion of the cities and commerce. Eventually, they found themselves in a paradoxical position of being economically powerful but socially confined. As a result, they turned their attention, and their assets, to conspicuous consumption and the pursuit of pleasure in the entertainment districts. While the military class continued to play an important role as art patrons, the pleasure quarters and the sophisticated entertainments they offered exerted an enormous impact on the culture of the Edo period. Celebrations of the exploits of the women, actors, and visitors of these districts provided the subject matter of the highly popular ukiyo zoshi novellas and ukiyo-e paintings and woodblock prints. The word ukiyo originally expressed the Buddhist idea of the transitory nature of life. This rather pessimistic notion was overturned during the Edo period. The character meaning "to float" was substituted for the homonym meaning "transitory" to express an attitude of joie de vivre. This hedonistic culture that glorified life in the "floating world" was particularly well expressed in the production of woodblock prints, which made available to anyone with a bit of extra cash captivating images of seductive courtesans, exciting kabuki actors, and famous romantic vistas. For the first time, artists were inspired by and responded to the interests and preferences of the general public.
Kabuki, performed in elaborate costumes and often with arresting make-up, provided viewers with highly entertaining plays drawn from traditional legends, historical events, and classical or popular stories. A fusion of dance and drama derived from the ancient Noh theater, kabuki was introduced in Kyoto at the beginning of the seventeenth century by a female performer named Okuni. Before it became an all-male theater, as it is today, kabuki underwent a series of transformations. After several years of success, the government, displeased by the highly profitable after-hours pursuits of the actresses, passed a series of prohibitions against female performers in 1629. The young boys who replaced them incurred a similar prohibition in 1652, after attracting too much attention from homosexuals, and their roles on stage were taken over by mature men.
Ukiyo-e represents the final phase in the long evolution of Japanese genre painting. Drawing on earlier developments that had focused on human figures, ukiyo-e painters focused on enjoyable activities in landscape settings, shown close-up, with special attention to contemporary affairs and fashions. As artists chose subjects increasingly engaged in the delights of city life, their interest shifted to indoor activities. The most favored subjects of painting in the early seventeenth century were scenes of merry-making at houses of pleasure, especially in the notorious Yoshiwara quarter of Edo. About the time of the Kanbun era (1661–72), actresses and the alluring courtesans of Yoshiwara were singled out for individual portrayal, often a scale larger than usual and garbed in opulent costumes.
Portraits of famous courtesans and actors were made more accessible to a mass audience in the form of inexpensive woodblock prints. The method of reproducing artwork or texts by woodblock printing was known in Japan as early as the eighth century, and many Buddhist texts were reproduced by this method. Until the eighteenth century, however, woodblock printing remained primarily a convenient way of reproducing written texts. What ukiyo-e printmakers of the Edo period achieved was the innovative use of a centuries-old technique.
In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, woodblock prints depicting courtesans and actors were much sought after by tourists to Edo and came to be known as "Edo pictures." In 1765, new technology made possible the production of single-sheet prints in a range of colors. The last quarter of the eighteenth century was the golden age of printmaking. At this time, the popularity of women and actors as subjects began to decline. During the early nineteenth century, Ando Hiroshige (1797–1858) and Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) brought the art of ukiyo-e full circle, back to landscape views, often with a seasonal theme, that are among the masterpieces of world printmaking. In the decade following the death of Hiroshige, in 1858, the major printmakers disappeared in the brutal sociopolitical upheavals that brought down the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867. Edo's society, the mainstay of ukiyo-e art, underwent a drastic transformation as the country was drawn into a campaign to modernize along Western lines. Like many other elements of Japanese culture, ukiyo-e was swept away in the maelstrom that heralded the coming of a new age.


Woodblock Print in Ukiyo-e Style

Woodblock prints were initially used as early as the eighth century in Japan to disseminate texts, especially Buddhist scriptures. The designer and painter Tawaraya Sotatsu (died ca. 1640) used wood stamps in the early seventeenth century to print designs on paper and silk. Until the eighteenth century, however, woodblock printing remained primarily a convenient method of reproducing written texts.
In 1765, new technology made it possible to produce single-sheet prints in a whole range of colors. Printmakers who had heretofore worked in monochrome and painted the colors in by hand, or had printed only a few colors, gradually came to use full polychrome painting to spectacular effect. The first polychrome prints, or nishiki-e, were calendars made on commission for a group of wealthy patrons in Edo, where it was the custom to exchange beautifully designed calendars at the beginning of the year. Woodblock prints of the Edo period most frequently depicted the seductive courtesans and exciting kabuki actors (JP2822) of the urban pleasure districts. With time, their subject matter expanded to include famous romantic vistas and eventually, in the final years of the nineteenth century, dramatic historical events. These pictures could be made in great quantity and featured popular scenes that appealed in particular to the wealthy townspeople of the period.
Despite the fame of great print masters like Suzuki Harunobu (1725–1770) and Ando Hiroshige (1797–1858), each print required the collaboration of four experts: the designer, the engraver, the printer, and the publisher. A print was usually conceived and issued as a commercial venture by the publisher, who was often also a bookseller. It was he who chose the theme and determined the quality of the work. Designers were dependent on the skill and cooperation of their engravers and of the printers charged with executing their ideas in finished form. A woodblock print image is first designed by the artist on paper and then transferred to a thin, partly transparent paper. Following the lines on the paper, now pasted to a wooden block usually of cherry wood, the carver chisels and cuts to create the original in negative—with the lines and areas to be colored raised in relief. Ink is applied to the surface of the woodblock. Rubbing a round pad over the back of a piece of paper laid over the top of the inked board makes a print. Polychrome prints were made using a separate carved block for each color, which could number up to twenty. To print with precision using numerous blocks on a single paper sheet, a system of placing two cuts on the edge of each block to serve as alignment guides was employed. Paper made from the inner bark of mulberry trees was favored, as it was strong enough to withstand numerous rubbings on the various woodblocks and sufficiently absorbent to take up the ink and pigments. Reproductions, sometimes numbering in the thousands, could be made until the carvings on the woodblocks became worn.


Kano School

The Kano school was the longest lived and most influential school of painting in Japanese history; its more than 300-year prominence is unique in world art history. Working from the fifteenth century into modern times, this hereditary assemblage of professional, secular painters succeeded in attracting numerous patrons from most affluent social classes by developing, mastering, and promoting a broad range of painting styles, pictorial themes, and formats.
Kano Masanobu (1434–1530) is credited with establishing the Kano school as a professional atelier in Kyoto. Although not himself a Zen adherent, Masanobu was closely associated with influential Zen temples and adopted the Chinese painting style that they favored. Imported along with Zen philosophy and practice, Chinese-style painting was characterized by a strong emphasis on brushwork, predominance of ink with little or no use of pigments, and preference for Chinese subjects, especially images of Zen patriarchs and landscapes. Taking advantage of the close relationship between the Zen monks and the Ashikaga shoguns, who looked to the temples for cultural and religious advice, Masanobu and his followers secured and maintained the highly lucrative favor of the military rulers of the day. By expanding the repertoire of the Kano artists to include boldly rendered brushwork and bright colors, Masanobu's son Kano Motonobu (1476–1559) widened the school's appeal and devised a style that merged the ink and brushwork emphasized in Chinese paintings with the decorativeness, color, and pattern associated with native Japanese interests. Building on these innovations and versatility, Motonobu's grandson Kano Eitoku (1543–1590) introduced a new strength and dynamism to his large compositions that appealed to the warlords who dominated the Momoyama period and suited the grand interiors of their massive and impressive castles. His series of sliding doors (fusuma) and folding screens (byobu) painted with oversize animals, figures, and nature scenes set against scintillating gold foil well illustrated the power and energy the daimyo patrons wished to express. Kano Sanraku (1559–1635), one of Eitoku's adopted sons, in his turn added a greater sense of elegance and decorativeness to Eitoku's style, capturing current interest in sophistication and sumptuousness.
Throughout the centuries, the Kano school consisted of numerous studios where groups of well trained and skillful craftsmen worked together to serve clients from almost all wealthy classes, including the samurai, aristocracy, Buddhist clergy, Shinto shrines, and the increasingly affluent merchants. While they kept their production secrets closely guarded, in part relying on family ties, apprenticeships, and copybooks, the popularity and prominence of the Kano school led to the establishment of offshoots in many cities. The Kano school style was transmitted even more widely by artists who were trained by Kano painters but not officially connected with family studios, and by rival artists imitating their style to suit patrons' demands. In 1600, the main branch of the Kano school moved from Kyoto to the new capital of Edo, following their principle patrons, the Tokugawa shogunate. The most successful member of the Kano school in the Edo period was Kano Tan'yu (1602–1674), who was named the shogun's painter-in-residence at the age of fifteen and was commissioned to decorate many of the most important castles of the day. Consistent with the Tokugawa's emphasis on social control, Tan'yu created a style that was more restrained than the grandeur popular during the preceding Momoyama era, incorporating a renewed interest on ink monochrome. An astute connoisseur, Tan'yu enjoyed access to the most important art collections of the day—a privilege that had benefited the work of his predecessors—and produced a number of insightful annotated notebooks on antiquities. While the Kano school's close association with the Tokugawa shogunate guaranteed their prosperity throughout the Edo period, their prominence declined when the fortunes of their patrons waned. During the end of the nineteenth century, the Kano school functioned as a conservative assembly of painters who were increasingly overshadowed by other artists.


Rinpa Painting

The Rinpa school (which can also be pronounced Rimpa) was a key part of the revival in the Edo period of indigenous Japanese artistic interests described by the term yamato-e. Paintings, textiles, ceramics, and lacquerwares were decorated by Rinpa artists with vibrant colors applied in a highly decorative and patterned manner. Favored themes, which often contained evocative references to nature and the seasons, were drawn from Japanese literature, notably The Tale of Genji, The Tales of Ise, and Heian-period poems composed by courtiers.
Two of the most important participants in this revival were Hon'ami Koetsu (1558–1637) and Tawaraya Sotatsu (d. ca. 1640). Both were upper-class Kyoto merchants, a group known as machishu, who allied themselves with the culturally influential yet impoverished nobility, who spearheaded the call for a return to aristocratic ideals of the late Heian period. While adept in several media, Koetsu is best known for his fluid and elegant calligraphy, inspired by Heian examples. Sotatsu is thought to have been a professional painter who revived classical yamato-e themes and images and infused them with a new stylization, drama, and emphasis on surface decoration. These men collaborated successfully to combine Koetsu's graceful calligraphy written on top of Sotatsu's decorative paintings, producing objects with a strong sense of rhythm, pattern upon pattern, and refined elegance. While these artworks understandably appealed to imperial patrons, they also attracted a number of samurai clients, who appreciated the sophistication of the court and often had close ties with the nobility.
Rinpa is a bit of a misnomer in that the term identifies artists who worked in a particular style, occasionally together, but did not form an organized or hereditary school. Although Rinpa traces its origins to Koetsu and Sotatsu, it derives its name (pa, or school, of [Ko-]rin) from Ogata Korin (1658–1716). Korin and his brother Kenzan (1663–1743) were members of a Kyoto family of textile merchants that serviced samurai, a few nobility, and city dwellers. Distantly related to Koetsu, the Ogata family owned a number of objects made by Sotatsu and Koetsu, which Korin studied carefully. Working in vivid colors or ink monochrome, often on gold ground, the prolific and versatile artist developed a painting style that was more abstracted and simplified than the compositions of his predecessors. Korin used his decorative and bold designs not only to ornament paintings but also for textiles, lacquerwares, and ceramics. Transmitted by means of pattern books and manuals, the work of the Ogata brothers inspired numerous other craftsmen. The Rinpa school's popularity was revived in the early nineteenth century, largely due to the work of the painter Sakai Hoitsu (1761–1828), who succeeded in establishing the Rinpa school in Edo. A member of a samurai family who had patronized Korin, Hoitsu intensively studied Korin's artworks. However, he shifted the themes on which he focused, concentrating on natural images, especially representations of the four seasons, rather than scenes from classical literature. He also brought a greater attention to detail in his painting style. Hoitsu's chief student Suzuki Kiitsu (1796–1858) introduced a greater sense of naturalism to his representations of flowers and plants. The Rinpa style continued to influence artists working in a variety of media throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, the style associated with Rinpa changed as other movements, such as ukiyo-e and Nihonga, were blended with it, altering and diluting the Rinpa style and its devotion to classical themes and characteristics.

NETSUKE: From Fashion Fobs to Coveted Collectibles


From the seventeenth through mid-nineteenth centuries, Japanese citizens of all classes wore the kimono—a simple T-shaped robe constructed with minimal cutting and tailoring—wrapped around the body and held in place with an obi sash. In order to carry small items such as tobacco, medicine, and seals, ingeniously constructed sagemono (a collective term for "hanging things") were suspended on cords that hung from the obi sash (29.100.841). Stacked, nested containers, known as inrô, were specifically designed to hold medicine or seals (10.211.2081). Netsuke served as anchors or counterweights for inrô and sagemono. A single cord was threaded through a cord channel on one side of the suspended container, through two holes (himotoshi) in the netsuke, then through the other side of the container, and knotted on the underside of the container (JP1954). A decorative bead, or ojime, slid along the cord between the netsuke and sagemono, allowing the user to open and close the container. The wearer would slip the netsuke under and dangle it over the obi sash, allowing the sagemono to hang suspended between waist and hip. In order to access the contents of the sagemono, the wearer slipped the netsuke behind the obi sash, liberating the ensemble. By sliding the ojime toward the netsuke, the contents of the container were easily accessible.
Primary sources referencing netsuke are relatively scant. Most of our knowledge about Edo-period (1615–1868) netsuke carvers derives from Inaba Tsûyrû's Sôken kishô (Sword Furnishings and Paraphernalia, 1781), a seven-volume publication that focused primarily on swords, but also includes a description of fifty-four famous carvers of the period, most from the regions of Kyoto and Osaka. Originally worn as part of a male kimono ensemble by men of the warrior class, inrô and netsuke developed as a form of conspicuous consumption within a culture that imposed a rigid four-tiered social system with warriors at the top, followed by farmers who tilled the land, artisans who crafted material goods, and merchants at the bottom. The artisans and merchants were collectively referred to as townspeople, or chônin. Given that the merchants were economically better off than many members of the socially superior military class, inrô and netsuke allowed merchants to display their wealth without breaking any sumptuary laws that regulated the types of houses they could build or fabrics they could wear. Inrô and netsuke, often made of expensive, rare materials and bearing the signature and seal of the carver, were thus designed not only for their functional ability to carry things, but also as markers of wealth.
Two of the most commonly used materials for netsuke were ivory and wood, with boxwood favored for its fine grain and durability. About 80 percent of surviving antique netsuke were carved in various types of native Japanese wood—cypress, cherry, black persimmon, yew, camphor, zelkova, and camellia. Elephant tusk ivory was one of the most popular materials for netsuke carvers for centuries. With the enactment of international trade restrictions on elephant ivory in 1989, however, netsuke carvers turned to other sources, including fossilized mammoth and walrus tusks. Extant eighteenth- and nineteenth-century netsuke made of or inlaid with coral, shells, metals, ebony, porcelain, cloisonné, mother-of-pearl, and various nuts attest to the skilled carvers' ingenuity in conveying the plasticity of these materials, despite their hardness and resistance to wear. Traditionally, netsuke carvers worked in specific formats. Three-dimensional figures, or katabori, account for the most numerous type. They are carved in the round and often referred to as miniature sculptures, although unlike most sculptures, the underside of the base is also completely carved. Rounded forms (manju), named after the round sweet bean cakes they resemble, were also quite popular. Another conventional netsuke shape is the kagami, or mirror, consisting of a round, bowl-shaped base and a lid fashioned of a flat disk of metal. A variety of metals such as brass, bronze, copper, gold, iron, pewter, and silver were used. Two alloys, shakudô (copper and gold) and shibuichi (copper and silver), were especially favored for their range of colors and patina. Carvers drew on varied themes for these accessories—nature, mythical tales, historical figures, masks used in theatrical performances, and gods and demons. Other subgroups suggest a fascination with erotica, the grotesque, or parodies and satirical depictions of elite culture. Given that netsuke were small and easily concealed, portrayals of ribald themes or satirical iconography could easily be hidden from the Tokugawa military authorities, thereby providing the townspeople with a whimsical and in some cases subversive outlet from officially sanctioned Neo-Confucian cultural norms prevailing during the Edo period.
During the late nineteenth century, netsuke transitioned from functional and fashionable accessories to objets d'art favored by Westerners for their exquisite carving and diminutive size. Upon the opening of Japan's ports to foreign trade in 1854 and the subsequent introduction of Western-style suits and uniforms, the kimono receded into the confines of the private sphere. Once the carvings ceased to be necessary accoutrements for everyday male dress, demand for netsuke as a fashion accessory declined as well. But with the increasing number of foreigners residing in Japan, the market for netsuke as a collector's item expanded. Most netsuke can be held in the palm of one's hand, rendering it a perfect souvenir of sojourns to what was then an "exotic East." Compact and portable by design, netsuke were exported in large numbers. The Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé (1846–1920), known for his eponymous Fabergé eggs, was entranced by netsuke and became an avid collector. The majority of the netsuke in the Museum's collection were presented by Mrs. (Margaret) Russell Sage (1828–1918), one of the Museum's great benefactors, in 1910. Other bequests came from New Yorkers who flourished in the late nineteenth century, including the chief designer for Tiffany and Co. Edward C. Moore (1827–1891), the founder of the B. Altman and Co. store Benjamin Altman (1840–1913), the antiquarian Stephen Whitney Phoenix (1838–1891), and Louisine Havemeyer (1855–1929), wife of the sugar magnate Henry O. Havemeyer (1847–1907).
Bowing to traditions established by Japanese carvers of the Edo period, contemporary carvers infuse netsuke with a vitality and freshness while simultaneously honoring their original, functional attributes. No longer required to employ compact designs with smooth surfaces to prevent damage to silk kimono, nor sturdy materials to avoid the risk of breakage, modern and contemporary designers are free to incorporate new materials and unusual shapes into their work. Netsuke crafted by contemporary carvers unveil the international appeal of what was once a quintessentially Japanese tradition. Until the 1960s, most professional netsuke carvers were Japanese nationals. Beginning in the late 1960s, non-Japanese began carving netsuke, and the total number of international carvers has grown to over one hundred. Today, netsuke are produced and appreciated by carvers and collectors from around the world. One of the world's most renowned collections of contemporary netsuke, amassed by the late Imperial Prince Takamado Norihito (1954–2002), attests to the ways in which innovation and expertise can grow from a rich historical tradition, even on an astonishingly small scale.


Noh Costume

Noh evolved from several strands of the performing arts and has been performed in Japan since the fourteenth century. Its status advanced during the Muromachi period (1392–1573), when the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu supported the work of Kan'ami (1333–1384) and his son Zeami (ca. 1363–ca. 1443), an actor and playwright who also wrote theoretical works about the art of Noh. In performance, Noh's austere bare stage and the severe elegance of its powerful masks combine with the multiple layers of shimmering costume to give the actor an oversized sculptural presence as he moves with the music and chanting of the chorus. Fittingly, Zeami's concept of yûgen (sometimes translated as "quiet elegance" or "elusive beauty") is frequently applied to Noh performance.

The Development of Noh Costume
From its beginnings, Noh has been closely linked with Japan's samurai class. Early Noh costumes paralleled the everyday wear of the samurai; indeed, some costumes were military and court garments presented as gifts to actors. Finally, in the fifteenth century, certain garment types arose that differed from regular samurai wear and were meant specifically for the Noh stage; these included mizugoromo jackets and maiginu dance robes.
In the subsequent Momoyama period (1573–1615), bold pattern layouts and opulent textile techniques characterized the garments of the samurai elite. Women often wore robes of nuihaku, a textile combining embroidery with gold or silver leaf. Another sumptuous technique was karaori, a woven textile with brocaded polychrome patterns. Sometimes the silk patterning wefts are so long that at first glance motifs look embroidered instead of woven. These two techniques were used for Noh costumes, and they also lent their names to types of kimono-shaped Noh robes; in fact, the karaori, usually worn as the outer garment for women's roles, is often considered the quintessential Noh costume. By the end of the Momoyama period, these splendid layouts and techniques were commonplace in Noh costumes, where they eventually became codified and persisted even after they were seldom seen in regular clothing.
During the Edo period (1615–1868), the Tokugawa shogunate officially sponsored Noh, and feudal barons (daimyô) throughout the realm were expected to learn Noh chanting (utai) and dancing (shimai) as part of their cultural training. High-ranking samurai supported Noh troupes, built Noh stages for their performances, and published Noh libretti. The study of Noh even spread to wealthy members of the merchant class. In the late Edo period, collecting and cataloguing became an intellectual concern and led to the production of costume inventories and such works as the multivolume Ken'eirô gasô (Compilation of Graceful Designs), which contains hundreds of full-color illustrations of Noh costumes, masks, and props, some still extant (1989.367). The notations in these volumes occasionally provide the identity of the daimyô who commissioned a costume or the troupe or role for which it was intended.

Noh Plays and Noh Costumes
Most plays of the Noh repertoire have only a few roles, played by a main actor (shite), usually masked, and one or more supporting actors (waki); all the actors are men. Many Noh plays have a dreamlike quality where boundaries of time and identity are blurred. Frequently the shite reveals himself late in the play as a ghost or spirit with an obsessive attachment to a person or event from his past that interferes with his Buddhist salvation, and a climactic dance follows. The costume of the shite changes according to the change in identity. The main pieces in the Noh wardrobe are divided into two groups, ôsode (literally, "large sleeves") and kosode (literally, "small sleeves"). The ôsode garments are outer robes and jackets with broad sleeves completely open at the wrist. Among these are the kariginu (91.1.62), chôken (32.30.4), maiginu, happi, and mizugoromo (2002.386). By contrast, the kosode group refers to kimono-shaped garments with small wrist openings such as the karaori (19.88.2; 61.151.6), atsuita (19.88.3), surihaku (32.30.5; 58.97.1), and nuihaku (29.100.541; 1989.367). Trousers, headbands, sashes, and other accessories complete the wardrobe. In Noh, the combinations of garments and methods of draping for various types of roles—warrior, aristocratic lady, monk, demon, etc.—have become codified, but within such overall constraints the final choice of colors and patterns is generally left to the actor.
Nevertheless, through time certain roles became associated with particular types of garments, patterns, and methods of draping the costume. An example is the title role in Okina, one of the oldest pieces in the Noh repertoire. As befits a godlike old man, Okina wears a kariginu, which conventionally features an overall geometric pattern called shokkô, consisting of octagons and squares (91.1.62). For the role of the woman in the play Dôjôji, a particular nuihaku is worn under the outer karaori: it has a black or dark blue background with colorful scattered roundels (29.100.541). Late in the play, when the woman is revealed as a demonic serpent, the nuihaku is folded down at the waist in a draping style called koshimaki ("waist wrap"), which shows an inner robe patterned with glittering gold triangles that represent the scales of the serpent.

THE JAPANESE BLADE: Technology and Manufacture

Masatoshi Tachi

The forging of a Japanese sword is a subtle and careful process, an art that has developed over the centuries as much in response to stylistic and aesthetic considerations as to technical improvements. To fashion these blades, the smith not only must possess physical strength, but also patience, dexterity, and a refined eye for the limits of the material and the beauty of a finished sword.
Japanese smiths traditionally use tama-hagane, steel produced in a tatara smelter from iron-rich sand. Modern smiths making Japanese swords in the traditional manner still use this type of steel today, now produced in the last operating tatara smelter, located in Yokota, Shimane Prefecture. However, the tatara smelting process, though efficient, is not perfect and tama-hagane is full of impurities and lacks a consistent dispersal of carbon content, the vital ingredient for turning iron into steel. Too little carbon and the metal will be soft, too much and the metal is brittle.

Kitae: Forging the Blade
In order to correct and compensate for the quality of the tama-hagane, the folding technique of kitae was developed. First the smith selects suitable pieces of tama-hagane and forge-welds them into a single block. This block will form the outer skin of the finished blade. Next the smith begins the laborious process of hammering out and folding the block back on itself. The process yields two important results. First, impurities are worked out of the steel and the carbon content is homogenized throughout the metal. An experienced smith can control with great accuracy the quality of the steel in this way.
Second, the folding produces the jihada, or patterns, for which these blades are so famous. Each time the block is hammered out and folded back, layers are formed. By folding only fourteen times, over 16,000 layers are produced. When the blade is finished, the jihada is visible in the ji, the surface between the edge and ridgeline. The smith can choose specific jihada, such as masame (a straight grain parallel to the edge) or ayasugihada (concentrically curved grain) (2001.574), simply by varying the direction of folding. The block can be folded repeatedly in the same direction, in alternate directions, or crosswise, each method producing a different style of jihada.
The outer skin, called kawagane, is then wrapped around a softer iron core, or shingane. This combination gives the blade both the flexibility and the strength to resist breakage under stress. Additionally, the harder kawagane is better suited to sharpening than the more ductile core. The two layers are heated andhammered out into a long bar. This welds the layers together and forms the blank from which the finished sword is made. Once the blade has been forged into its basic form, the smith uses files and planes to bring out the final shape, followed by a rough polish. At this time, all the distinctive characteristics of the sword are present—a clearly defined profile, point, and ridgelines, the tang, and an even, level surface. All that remains is for the smith to prepare the edge.

Yaki-ire: Hardening the Edge
The hardening of the edge is in many ways the most important, and the most difficult, aspect of the sword-making process. It is the hardening of the edge that gives the blade its ability to take and retain amazing sharpness. To begin with, the blade is coated in yakibatsuchi, a mixture of water, clay, ash, and other ingredients. Every smith has his own special recipe, often a closely kept secret. The yakibatsuchi is applied over the surface, thicker along the spine and thinner at the edge. Working in a darkened forge room using only the light of the glowing coals, the smith carefully heats the blade. As the temperature rises, crystal structures within the metal begin to change. The smith carefully observes the color of the glowing blade, and when the critical temperature is reached the sword is quickly quenched in a trough of water.
At the critical temperature, around 750°C, the structure of steel changes to austenite, a phase where carbon thoroughly combines with iron. When the blade is quickly cooled by quenching, austenite changes to martensite, the hardest type of steel. However, where the thick yakibatsuchi was applied, the blade will cool more slowly, turning not into martensite but instead forming ferrite and pearlite, which are softer and more flexible. Like the kawagane and shingane, this combination of hard edge and softer body is what gives the blade its desirable qualities.
The hardening of the edge also creates a visible change in the surface of the metal. Depending on the way in which the clay mixture was applied, a variety of effects can be produced. This edge pattern is called the hamon, and is one of the most important aspects in the aesthetic appearance of a blade. Like the jihada, each of these patterns has a specific name. Suguha, for example, is a very straight hamon, while sambonsugi describes a zigzag line in clusters of three.
After the hardening of the edge, if the smith is satisfied with the appearance and quality of the blade, it is then passed on to the polisher, who will give the blade its final mirrorlike polish, and other craftsmen who will make the scabbard and sword mountings. Complete mountings have many elements, including metalwork such as tsuba and menuki, lacquered wood, silk cords and wrapping, and ray-skin grips. Though these are all works of art in themselves, the blade remains the true centerpiece of the finished work, an example of the ingenuity of centuries of Japanese smiths and their desire to achieve the perfect blend of technology and art.


Last Samurai

The military elite dominated Japanese politics, economics, and social policies between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries. Known as bushi or samurai, these warriors, who first appear in historical records of the tenth century, rose to power initially through their martial prowess—in particular, they were expert in archery, swordsmanship, and horseback riding. The demands of the battlefield inspired these men to value the virtues of bravery and loyalty and to be keenly aware of the fragility of life. Yet, mastery of the arts of war was by no means sufficient. To achieve and maintain their wealth and position, the samurai also needed political, financial, and cultural acumen.
Mastery of the arts of war was by no means sufficient. To achieve and maintain their wealth and position, the samurai also needed political, financial, and cultural acumen.In contrast with the brutality of their profession, many leaders of the military government became highly cultivated individuals. Some were devoted patrons of Buddhism, especially of the Zen and Jodo schools. Several were known as accomplished poets, and others as talented calligraphers. During the Muromachi period (1392–1573), a number of shoguns exerted a profound cultural influence by amassing impressive collections of painting, enthusiastically supporting No and Kyogen theater, and sponsoring the construction of beautiful temples and gardens in Kyoto. Powerful warriors of the succeeding Momoyama era (1573–1615) inherited this repertoire of interests and added to it a love of grandeur and splendor. The massive walls, vast audience chambers, and soaring keeps of their great castles became the central symbols of the age. Glittering with the abundant use of gold and dynamic in design, the paintings of this period exuded power and monumentality. On a more intimate scale, the development of the tea ceremony was closely intertwined with samurai culture in the late medieval period. During the Edo period (1615–1868), the cult of the warrior, bushido, became formalized and an idealized code of behavior, focusing on fidelity to one's lord and honor, developed. The samurai of this period inherited the traditional aesthetics and practices of their predecessors and, therefore, continued the seemingly paradoxical relationship between the cultivation of bu and bun—the arts of war and of culture—that characterized Japan's great warriors.


The term shogun, which means "general who quells barbarians," is an ancient military term that was adopted in the twelfth century for the dominant warlord who held political and martial power in Japan while the emperor in Kyoto maintained his position as figural head of state and cultural leader. The members of the Minamoto, Ashikaga, and Tokugawa families who held the position of shogun successively from the twelfth to nineteenth centuries varied greatly in the extent and security of their authority and the stability and prosperity of the realm under their command. While always remaining cognizant of their status as warriors and need to maintain their military prowess (bu), the first shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo (r. 1192–99), recognized the necessity for the new military government (bakufu) to develop new administrative and cultural talents (known as bun) in order to rule the country effectively and to demonstrate their own legitimacy. Yoritomo, who was known in particular for his interest in poetry, was assisted in this endeavor by his own experience as a descendant of the imperial family in Kyoto, as well as by the minor courtiers and erudite Zen monks that acted as bureaucrats and advisors in the bakufu's new capital of Kamakura. Thus, from the beginning, the shogunate promoted a culture that combined aspects of samurai culture and the arts of the imperial court, with the balance between the two shifting in accordance with the interests of individual shoguns and their advisors. With the ascendancy of Zen Buddhism and the interest of many prominent monks in Chinese culture, the shogunate absorbed the arts of Chinese literature, Confucian studies, the ritualized consumption of tea, ink monochrome paintings, garden design, and calligraphy.
Although many shoguns were active patrons of Zen and the related arts, it was by no means the only religion patronized by them. Pure Land Buddhism's promise of immediate salvation through devotion to Amida Buddha was comforting to warriors, who frequently faced the possibility of violent death. This faith was expressed by the first Minamoto shoguns in the numerous reconstruction projects of Buddhist temples that were made necessary by decades of devastating warfare. Shoguns also embraced the native belief system of Shinto. For example, the most important shrine constructed in Kamakura was dedicated to the god Hachiman, who combined aspects of Shinto and Buddhist practice. The tradition of active cultural involvement begun by the Minamoto and their influential regents from the Hojo family was continued by the Ashikaga shoguns, especially the third and eighth shoguns of the Muromachi period, Yoshimitsu (r. 1369–95) and Yoshimasa (r. 1449–74). Their private villas, Rokuonji (popularly known as Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavilion), built in 1397 by Yoshimitsu, and Jishoji (Ginkakuji, or the Silver Pavilion), completed in 1489 by Yoshimasa, served as elegant settings for the pursuit of art and culture. Both shoguns were enthusiastic and extravagant patrons of the arts and spent enormous sums on building projects. Inspired by Zen monk advisors and supported by renewed contacts with China, the Ashikaga shoguns amassed impressive collections of Song and Yuan dynasty paintings, encouraged Japanese painters to develop an indigenous ink painting tradition (notably among the Kano school artists they favored), actively participated in the tea ceremony (chanoyu) and collected tea utensils, sponsored the construction of gardens, and supported the practice of flower arrangement as a refined art form (ikebana). The Ashikaga shoguns also exerted an important influence on the dramatic arts as enthusiastic patrons of Noh dance-drama.
The Momoyama period of intensive political and martial competition gave rise to the construction of imposing, fortified stone castles. While a fondness for ink monochrome paintings continued, occupants of these massive structures decorated many rooms with bold, sumptuous, and highly colored paintings that could convey a potent visual impression of wealth and power. This luxurious aesthetic was also mirrored in the decorative arts, notably the sumptuous lacquerware interior architecture and utensils made for the shrine at Kodaiji, in Kyoto, created by order of the widow of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536–1598) as a mausoleum for her husband and herself. Paradoxically, around the same time, these same warrior leaders also adopted a new aesthetic of natural simplicity first developed in association with the tea ceremony and its attendant utensils and decorations. This highly sophisticated concept of "artful poverty" is best exemplified in the ideals of wabicha, the rustic tea ceremony, which developed around the great tea master Sen no Rikyu (1522–1591), cultural advisor to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The succeeding Tokugawa shoguns, based in Edo, continued their predecessor's patronage of the arts, including the tea ceremony, the collection of tea wares, Noh theater, and paintings by Kano school artists. In keeping with the conservative nature of their regime and its emphasis on Confucian restraint, the early Tokugawa rulers in particular focused their attention on more scholarly arts, such as calligraphy and poetry, and discouraged their samurai vassals from the frivolous pursuits of the urban pleasure quarters. In all eras, the political status of the shoguns gave them influence as cultural leaders, so that members of lower military ranks adopted many of the same fashions and preferences. Evidence of this can be seen in the popularity of Kano school paintings, wabicha-style tea parties, and Kodaiji-style lacquerware, to name a few examples, beyond the ranks of the military leaders. This trend was enhanced by the sankin kotai system instituted by the Tokugawa bakufu, whereby provincial warlords (daimyo) were required to maintain residences in Edo and spend specified amounts of time living there. The bakufu's desire to thwart the build-up of powerful rivals in the provinces by encouraging their vassals to expend their time and financial resources on cultural pursuits served to effectively spread the shogun's aesthetic influence.


1. Earthenware

Jomon Earthenware

The history of Japanese ceramics begins with Jomon earthenware, said to be the world’s oldest earthenware. The name "Jomon" is based on the term "cord-marked pottery" which was used by E.S. Morse, known for the excavation of the Omori Kaizuka shell mound. According to radiocarbon dating, the oldest examples are about 12000 years old. Jomon earthenware was produced over a 10000-year period, which is divided into six chronological categories (the Incipient, Initial, Early, Middle, Late and Final periods) according to changes in the forms of the ware. It is also divided in detail by region, and so when we speak of "Jomon earthenware," we are actually describing a wide variety of pottery. Representative examples are the pots with applied bean-like motifs and ridges from the Incipient period, flame-shaped earthenware from the Middle period, Kamegaoka style earthenware from the Later period and the clay figures which were made from the Middle period through the Final period. Jomon earthenware was generally formed by coiling and fired to 800-900 degrees in the open without using kilns.

Yayoi Earthenware

Yayoi earthenware followed Jomon earthenware, and it is thought to have been first made in around northern Kyushu in the third century B.C. The name 'Yayoi" comes from a shell mound discovered in 1884 in Mukogaoka, Yayoi-cho, Hongo, Tokyo. One of the reasons for the rise of Yayoi earthenware was the shift from hunting and gathering to an agricultural existence, and vessels appropriate to agricultural life began to appear. Storage jars, cooking pots, and eating and drinking vessels such as stemmed cups are basic examples of Yayoi earthenware. In some places, the forms and decorations follow Jomon traditions. Yayoi earthenware is divided in to three periods, the Early, Middle, and Late periods. The Early period Ongagawa type earthenware and Middle period Sugu type earthenware are representative of Yayoi ware.

Haji Ware

Following Yayoi earthenware came Haji ware of the Kofun period. The name Hajiki (Haji ware) actually comes from written records such as Wamyoruijusho and Engishiki of the Heian period, but the name is a general term for primitive unglazed earthenware made in the Kofun period and later. Like Jomon and Yayoi earthenware, Haji ware was formed by coiling and fired in oxidation at a low temperature, the forms following after those of the Yayoi period. Haji ware is broadly divided into ritual vessels and daily utensils, but the development of Sue ware had a great influence on function. Basically, Sue ware was used as storage vessels, and Haji ware was used for cooking.

Sue Ware

Sue ware traces its roots to the high-fired stoneware of the Korean peninsula, and the Korean influence is strong in early Sue ware forms. The appearance of Sue ware marks the first major technological advance in the history of Japanese ceramics. Innovations included the use of the wheel to produce large numbers of pots, and the introduction of the anagama (hill-side kiln) which made it possible to fire at high temperatures in reduction. The new pottery techniques which were transmitted to Japan from the Korean peninsula originated in the gray ware of Shang dynasty China. A well known area where Sue ware was produced is the group of ancient kiln sites in Suemura in the hilly area of southern Osaka. Pottery activity is thought to have begun there in the Kofun period in the early 5th century, after which the new technology spread to the rest of the country. Vessel forms changed greatly in the 7th century, when potters began to make vessels modeled on metal ware from China and Korea. Sue ware began to decline in the late Nara period with the development of pottery glazed with ash and other glazes; the technology of Sue ware, however, formed the foundation of the medieval pottery which was to come. Along with medieval wood-fired ware with natural glaze, this ware can be classified as one kind of stoneware.

Earthenware in Medieval and Modern Times

From around the 6th century, black earthenware, which can be considered a branch of Haji ware, appeared in eastern Japan, and it was also produced in the west of the Kinai region beginning in the 8th century, following the decline of Sue ware. From the 11th century, especially in western Japan, gaki bowls and plates, considered the successor to black ware, were produced in large amounts. In medieval times, Haji ware was used mainly for small offering plates and cooking pots. Haji wares continued to be produced as offering vessels and roasting utensils through the modern age until the present.

2. Stoneware

Early Stoneware

Stoneware originated in Japan with the development of green-glazed ware and other glazed pottery in the second half of the 7th century. Influenced by Chinese and Korean wares, Japanese glazed ware was not an original innovation. However, viewing the development of glazed stoneware in the early ages of ancient Japan, we can imagine the admiration for Chinese and Korean culture as well as the vigor to assimilate advanced culture.

Pottery of the Nara and Heian periods (538-1185) can be divided into two types: low-fired lead-glazed ware such as three-color-glazed or green-glazed ware, and high-fired ash-glazed ware. The former, evolved under the influence of three-color ware of Chinese Tang and green-glazed pottery from the Korean peninsula, includes the Nara three-color ware, a notable example of which being the Shosoin three-color ware. According to historical records, they were called shi, shiki, or aoshi at the time. Production of the latter type, high-fired ash-glazed pottery, known as shirashi at the time began in a large scale in the second half of the 8th century in Sanage kilns, Aichi Prefecture. These two types of ware represent the first Japanese pottery to be using man-made glazes.

(1)Low-Fired Pottery with Colored Glazes

Low-fired colored pottery is ware glazed with lead-based glazes which use copper, iron or white stone as colorants to achieve green, yellow or white colors. Archaeological excavations conducted up until now tell us that production of green-glazed ware began in Japan in the 7th century, preceding the production of three-color ware. The production technique of green-glazed ware was imported from the Korean peninsula, in which the technique was acquired from China by the 5th century.

Chinese Tang three-color ware, after which Nara three-color ware was modeled, has been excavated mainly from ruins of temples across Japan, indicating that although in China such ware was used mainly for mortuary purposes, in Japan, Tang three-color ware was used widely in Buddhist rituals. Nara three-color ware, known for its wide variety of forms and functions, has been excavated in large quantities from sites related to religious rituals, giving us an idea of the specific ways in which it was used. The well known Shosoin three-color ware was originally used at Todaiji Temple as religious utensils; there are records that mention such ware being used in the consecration ceremony of the Great Buddha at Todaiji in 752. There are also many excavated examples of this type of ware which were used as funerary urns to hold bones after cremation. These urns are of a unique shape and are known as yakko. This Nara three-colored ware is believed to have been fired at an official kiln in the capital.

Nara three-color ware disappeared by the latter half of the 8th century to be replaced by two-color and green-glazed pottery, gradually declining in quality. At the beginning of the Heian period (794~1185) in the 9th century, monochrome green-glazed ware was popular. Green-glazed ware is known to have been fired during the Heian period at the Sanage and Bihoku kilns in Aichi Prefecture and the Nagato kilns in Yamaguchi Prefecture. There are many examples of Heian period green-glazed ware which were imitations of metal ware as well as imitations of Chinese Yue celadon, which was beginning to be imported to Japan at the time. Among the reasons for the popularity of green-glazed ware were the fascination of metal vessels and Chinese celadon, and the desire to produce vessels as substitutions for them. Green-glazed ware in the Heian period, however, disappeared by the first half of the eleventh century.

(2)Ash-Glazed Pottery

Ash-glazed pottery is vitrified stoneware covered with glaze made from the ash of plants and fired to a high temperature. It was first produced in the second half of the 8th century at the Sanage kilns in Aichi Prefecture, based on the production techniques of Sue ware. Although ash-glazed ware already existed among Sue ware, it was the coincidental result of fly ash inside the wood-burning kiln being deposited on the surface of the pots. Based on knowledge gained from experience, the potters gradually began to load pots in the kiln conscious of the natural ash effects. Pottery fired at this stage is called primitive ash-glazed ware, and it occupies a position between natural ash-glazed ware and man-made ash-glazed ware, but the delineation between the two types is not always clear.

The production of ash-glazed ware began at the Sanage kilns, and spread from northwestern Aichi Prefecture and southern Gifu Prefecture to the Tokai region. The first ash-glazed pottery was based on Sue ware forms, and there are examples of long-necked bottles, ewer, and short-necked jars. The kilns also fired imitations of Chinese Yue-type celadon. Around the end of the 11th century, the Sanage kilns ceased firing ash-glazed ware and shifted to mass production of the “yama-chawan” or unglazed daily functional ware. Ash-glazed ware disappeared from the Tokai region by the 12th century.

Pottery of the Medieval Era

The medieval era in Japan lasted from the end of the Heian period through the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. While continuing the traditions established by ancient kilns, this period also saw the establishment of a new system of pottery production. Haji-type earthenware continued to be fired, along with the following two kinds of stoneware: Sue-type ware and shiki-type ware.

(1)Sue-type Stoneware

Medieval pottery fired in the Heian period based on Sue ware can be classified into two types: gray-black ware which was fired in reduction, as Sue ware was, and red-brown ware which began to appear later by switching the firing condition into oxidation. The former was fired at several kilns with the Suzu kiln (Ishikawa Prefecture) being the first on the list, followed by the Uozumi kiln (Hyogo Prefecture) and Kameyama kiln (Okayama Prefecture). Bizen ware (Okayama Prefecture) is representative of the latter type. The form of both types centered on vessels such as storage jars and mortars, and the products of these kilns together with Haji-type ware formed the basic set of daily utensils. The Suzu kiln developed a unique style of gray-black vessels decorated by combing or paddling, while Bizen ware was characterized by its substantialness and a unique reddish earth color. While both of these wares were Sue-type pottery, they developed completely different styles, each with its own individual appeal. The two wares were to meet with different fates, however. In the early Kamakura period, the Bizen kilns succeeded in switching from reduction firing to oxidation firing, establishing a tradition which was continued into modern times. On the other hand, the reduction firing Suzu kilns, under pressure from Echizen ware, disappeared in the medieval era. These Sue-type wares are fired at high temperatures and along with Sue ware, are often classified as types of stoneware.

(2)Shiki-type pottery

(a)Pottery of the yama-chawan type

While ash-glazed pottery disappeared by the end of the 11th century, its place was taken by the coarse unglazed stoneware known as yama-chawan ware (shirashi-type pottery). This ware was produced across the Tokai region. Yama-chawan ware, also popularly known as Gyoki ware or Toshiro ware, was unglazed ware produced in large quantities for daily use. At first, the forms centered on bowls and plates, but as imitations of imported Chinese porcelain gradually increased, forms such as four-handled jars began to appear. Over 2000 sites of kilns which produced this ware are known today in Aichi, Gifu, Mie and Shizuoka Prefectures. The ware continued to be fired through the middle of the 15th century.

(b)Yakishime stoneware

From the end of the Heian period into the late 11th and 12th centuries, the production of yakishime (high-fired) unglazed stoneware such as jars and mortars began in locations from the Tokai region to the Hokuriku region, the Tohoku region and in western Japan. Notable kilns firing yakishime stoneware were located in Tokoname, Atsumi (Aichi Prefecture), Echizen (Fukui Prefecture), Shigaraki (Shiga Prefecture), Tamba (Hyogo Prefecture) and Kaga (Ishikawa Prefecture). While the techniques followed in the path of early ash-glazed ware, stoneware was fired at high temperatures in oxidation. Although the works were unglazed, they were covered with deposits of natural ash from the wood firing, an effect which became one of the attractions of these pots. We can observe that at the time, glaze was already recognized for its decorative effects. At the same time, many jars known as kokumonko (jar with incised decoration) with a variety of designs reflecting the aesthetics of yamato-e were also being produced. There are also large numbers of sutra outer containers and urns used to contain bones after cremation which have been excavated.

(c)Glazed Pottery

The Seto-Mino area was a center of pottery production in medieval times, and it is noteworthy that this was the only area where glazed pottery was fired at that time. It is thought that stoneware was first fired in Seto at the end of the 12th century, based on the Sanage and yama-chawan kilns. Iron glazes and brown glazes were added to the already-developed ash glazes, and using decorative techniques such as impression, incision and appliqué, imitations of Chinese ceramic wares including celadon of the Northern Song, Yuan and Ming (Longquan type), porcelain and qingbai ware (Jingdezhen type) were made in large quantities. The Seto kilns fired a wide variety of wares from daily utensils to Buddhist ritual vessels, and from the 13th century, high-grade items such as four-handled jars, vases, and ewers were also produced. Together with Chinese imports, these wares were made to satisfy the demand of the ruling class. Also, with the sudden rise in popularity of the tea ceremony from the late Kamakura to the Muromachi period and the artistic preference on karamono or “Chinese things”, tenmoku tea bowls and tea caddies imitating Chinese ceramic wares were produced in the 14th century. In the 15th century, the center of production of Seto-type glazed pottery shifted to the east Mino area in Gifu Prefecture.

Pottery of the Modern Age

(1)Pottery of the Muromachi and Momoyama Periods– Flourishing Production of the Tea Ware

(a)Seto-Type Glazed Pottery - Seto and Mino Ware


In the latter half of the Muromachi period, the Mino kilns began to fire works which were completely different from the Chinese imitations. Representative of this new type of ware were Setoguro (black Seto) and Kiseto (yellow Seto). Setoguro ware is generally a cylindrical tea bowl covered with a deep black glaze known as hikidashi-guro. Kiseto is a type of ware glazed with a yellow glaze and green accents known as tanpan which has a unique texture and a well-balanced form. These new wares were born as the result of rising demand for utensils that meet the artistic taste for the tea ceremony, which was shifting from the favor of Chinese wares to the preference for “wabi-suki (wabi-cha)” or the concept of more restrained and rustic beauty among the townspeople in Kyoto and Sakai. After this, from the end of the Muromachi throughout the Momoyama period, the status of Japanese pottery (as opposed to karamono) in the tea ceremony improved dramatically, which led to an increase in production of Japanese style tea utensils. At the same time, Korean ceramics, especially tea bowls known as Korai-jawan became immensely popular, providing great influence on the style of Japanese tea bowls and utensils.

The Seto and Mino kilns underwent a technical revolution at the end of the Muromachi period, as semi-underground anagama kilns were replaced by ogama, or large above-ground kilns, making it possible to fire large quantities of pots at high temperatures. As a result, from the Tensho era (1573-92) through the Bunroku and Keicho era (1592-1600) the variety of the wares, mainly for the tea ceremony, fired at the Mino kilns increased further, making Mino the largest center of Momoyama pottery. New techniques included Shino ware, which was a type of pottery with iron decoration covered with a feldspathic glaze, the first white glaze developed in Japan. In the middle of the Keicho era (1596-1614), a kiln with greater thermal efficiency, the multi-chambered climbing kiln, was introduced from Karatsu and built at the Motoyashiki kiln in Toki, Gifu prefecture. This enabled an even greater number of ware to be fired in response to increased demand. Taking advantage of the kilns' improved thermal efficiency, Oribe ware began to be produced in greater quantities. Oribe ware was characterized by the combination of a vivid green glaze and iron painted decoration applied to unconventional forms emphasizing the beauty of the irregular. Oribe ware broadened the possibilities of pottery by creating a style of its own, incorporating the latest trends of the day, such as Western tastes and Tsujigahana, a design usually adopted in kimono. Oribe ware is named after FURUTA Oribe (1543-1615), a warrior and tea master. This signifies the tremendous cultural influence of tea masters during this period.

(b)Porous Lead-Glazed Pottery - Raku Ware

Raku tea bowls were first made by Chojiro (?-1589) in Kyoto under the direction of SEN no Rikyu (1522-91), the beginning of the Raku family who have been dedicating their lives to creating tea bowls through successive generations even now. "Soeki-nari" and "ima-yaki" teabowls first appear in records of tea ceremonies in Tensho 14 (1586); these notes are now believed to refer to Raku teabowls made by Chojiro. The originator of Raku ware, Chojiro I, was originally a maker of roof files. It is fascinating to note the stark contrast between the extraordinary craftsmanship of one of his early works "Ridgepole tile in the shape of lion" (dated 1574) and his unpretentious tea bowls. Raku ware is a low-fired lead-glazed ware which has a soft and porous body. One unique feature is that it is hand built rather than thrown on the wheel. Raku ware is mainly composed of two types of tea bowls: black raku and red raku. Some Raku ware is two-colored or three-colored, implying the influence from the production techniques of Chinese three-color ware which were being imported from southern China at the time. Kyoto's Tamamizu ware and Kanazawa's Ohi ware are descended from Raku ware. In the Edo period, HONAMI Koetsu (1558-1637), known for his genius for painting and crafts, learned Raku techniques from Jokei, Chojiro's successor. His rich sense of artistry and free, refined style gave new possibilities to the creation of tea bowls. Koetsu's tea bowls are highly appraised even today.

(c)Unglazed Stoneware - Bizen, Shigaraki, and lga Wares

Unglazed yakishime ware, which had centered on the production of jars and mortars since medieval times, began to receive more attention as the rustic wabi-cha style of tea became more popular. Shigaraki and Bizen ware were introduced to the tea ceremony from early on among the Japanese-style ware, and there are references to a Shigaraki Mizusashi (shigaraki water jar) and Mizusashi Hisen-mono (water jar of Bizen ware) in records of tea gatherings. In many cases, utensils made for everyday use were adopted in the tea ceremony, such as a domestic vessel known as an onioke (cylindrical jar) which was used as a water jar in the tea ceremony. There are many fine examples of water jars and flower vases of Bizen ware, which has been prized for a reddish tinge in the body color, earthy texture of the surface and the solid, dynamic form. Water jars and flower vases of lga ware, made in the area around Ueno and Ayama in Mie Prefecture, also drew people’s attention. They were valued for their bold style, the exact opposite of uniformity, and were one representative of the preference for the "beauty of irregularity." The natural ash glaze known as biidoro (derived from the Portuguese term vidro for glass) and burnt reddish black color of fired Iga clay is especially appealing.

(d)Korean-Style Glazed Pottery - Karatsu Ware

Karatsu ware is believed to have originated in the Tensho era (1573-92), from a jar dated 1592 and archaeological excavations at various sites. Karatsu ware began to be fired in earnest in the Bunroku and Keicho eras (1592-1614) when Korean potters were brought to work in the Hizen region in Saga and Nagasaki Prefectures. The first kilns were located in the Kishidake Mountains; here, large-scale climbing kilns known as noborigama were introduced. In the middle of the Keicho era (1596-1614), the introduction of efficient Korean-style multi-chamber climbing kilns made mass production possible. This type of kiln, which was not native to Japan, soon spread to Mino and other parts of the country. With the ability to fire large quantities of pottery in the multi-chambered climbing kilns, Karatsu potters produced a variety of ware, which was distributed across the country, and Karatsu ware soon became well-known as a new center for production of glazed pottery. The Karatsu style developed under the influence of Korean and Mino pottery, and many fine tea ceremony utensils were produced there, such as imitations of Korai-jawan, along with water jars, flower vases, and mukozuke bowls. In addition, common tableware was produced in large quantities, so that the output of Karatsu kilns eventually overtook those of Mino in national market share. Representative of Karatsu ware is E-Garatsu, which is ware decorated with underglaze iron and covered with a feldspathic glaze. Karatsu potters used many techniques imported from the Korean peninsula, including the paddling technique, the use of kick wheels, and inlaid decoration techniques. In western Japan, the term Karatsu-mono (wares from Karatsu) became a term meaning pottery in general.

In addition to Karatsu, other kilns were established in various regions of western Japan producing Korean-style glazed pottery including Takatori (Fukuoka Prefecture), Satsuma (Kagoshima Prefecture), Yatsushiro (Kumamoto Prefecture), Agano (Fukuoka Prefecture), Hagi (Yamaguchi Prefecture) and Imbe (Okayama Prefecture). These kilns made important contributions to the development of Japanese ceramics.

(2)Pottery of the Edo Period - Kyoto Ware

From the end of the Keicho era through the Genna era (1615-23), in Kyoto, Awataguchi ware and Kiyomizu ware were produced in addition to Raku ware. In 1647 NONOMURA Ninsei (dates unknown) began firing ware at Omuro kiln in front of Ninnaji temple, and from around 1656 pottery with overglaze enamel decoration began to be fired, signifying a new type of Edo-period pottery. The idea of decorating stoneware with overglaze enamels is thought to have been inspired by the overglaze enamel-decorated porcelain which was already being made in Hizen at the time. The ware is also thought to have been influenced by the colored glaze technology of Kochi-type ware (a Japanese term for three-color glazed ware from southern China produced in between the late Ming and early Qing), which was already being imported. The technique of decorating stoneware with overglaze enamels is not found even in China, an indication of Ninsei's originality.

Under the patronage of KANAMORI Sowa (1584-1656), Ninsei developed consummate skill in forming his vessels along with a delicate painting technique, perfecting a refined, elegant style favored by the ruling dynasty. The name Ninsei is a combination of the first characters in the Ninnaji temple's name and Ninsei's real name, Seiemon. The fact that he signed his pots himself with the "Ninsei" name is an indication of his pride as a potter. Ninsei's apprentice, OGATA Kenzan (1663-1743), established a kiln in (1699) at Narutaki lzumidani. Since this location was to the northwest of Kyoto, he took the character “inui" (northwest) for his name and called himself Kenzan. Kenzan developed a unique pictorial style using white slip and underglaze pigments. His work was influenced greatly by his older brother and representative painter of the Rinpa school, OGATA Korin (1658-1716). There are many examples of collaborations between the two, where Korin painted designs on Kenzan' s pottery. Like Ninsei, Kenzan signed his name on his works in a unique calligraphic style, and this came to have value as a kind of "brand name." Kenzan compiled the techniques he learned from Ninsei into the manual Toko Hitsuyo, which became a sort of bible of Kyoto ware pottery. At the end of the Edo period, porcelain was first fired in Kyoto by OKUDA Eisen (1753-1811), under whose tutelage the literary figure AOKI Mokubei (1767-1833) began to make pottery according to the Qing Chinese text on pottery Tao Shuo. In addition, renowned craftsmen such as NIN’AMI Dohachi (1783-1855), who made ware in a wide variety of styles, and EIRAKU Hozen (1795-1854), who incorporated Chinese decorative techniques such as kinrande, Kochi-style design and underglaze decoration into tea utensils also made contributions to the development of the Kyoto ware tradition, which continues even today.

3. Porcelain

The Beginning of Porcelain

Archaeological excavations since the 1970s have supported the theory that porcelain was first fired in Japan in the Karatsu pottery kilns in the 1610s. In 1637, the Nabeshima clan, who were aware of the commercial value of porcelain, reorganized and consolidated the Arita kilns. After this, the kilns' output switched to porcelain, and with the Nabeshima clan's aggressive support and protection, Arita porcelain developed rapidly. While the influence of ware from the Korean peninsula on early Arita porcelain has been pointed out, large quantities of porcelain from private kilns of late Ming dynasty China were being imported to Japan as well, which also seem to have provided great influence on Arita. In fact, the production of Arita blue-and-white ware began at quite an early stage. The first porcelain fired at Arita until 1649 is known as Early Imari ware. Its style is simple, free and powerful, the quality highly esteemed. The name Imari (ware) comes from the fact that the porcelain fired around the Arita region was chiefly shipped out of the port at Imari. Recently, however, it has been advocated that this ware should be called "Hizen porcelain," attaching importance to the area of its production, the Hizen region which includes Arita. Archaeological excavations of kiln sites and sites of the commercial area in which the ceramics were marketed and consumed are shedding more light on how it was produced and distributed.

The Birth of Overglaze Enamel Decoration

At the end of the Kanei era and beginning of the Shoho era (1640s), production of porcelain decorated with overglaze enamels became possible at the Arita kilns. While many details remain unclear about the origin of overglaze enamel decoration, records of the SAKAIDA Kakiemon family indicate that the techniques were learned from the Chinese craftsmen living in Japan. At the same time, the influence of the enamel-decorated ware from Jingdezhen private kilns and the Swatow ware from Zhangzhou kilns which was being imported to Japan in large quantities at the time should not be ignored. The appearance of overglaze decoration in Arita led to the development of the Ko-Kutani, Kakiemon. Ko-Imari, and Nabeshima styles, led to the flourishing age of elaborate and colorful porcelain. Excavations began from the 1970s of old kiln sites and sites of the commercial area in which the ceramics were marketed and consumed have supported the theory that Ko-Kutani style ware was in fact made in Arita, and researchers are in the process of attempting to incorporate the Ko-Kutani style ware chronologically into the ceramic history of Arita.

(1)Ko-Kutani Style

This ware is called Ko-Kutani because it was once thought to have been fired at the Kutani kiln (present-day Ishikawa Prefecture) of the Daishoji clan. Recent archaeological excavations, however, have discovered pieces of pots to be decorated in Ko-Kutani style at the Yanbeta kiln site (Arita), and shards of decorated Ko-Kutani ware from the site of a factory specializing in overglaze decoration in Akaemachi (Arita). These excavated pieces have been determined to have been made between 1640 and 1650. Therefore, the prevailing theory at present is that Ko-Kutani style ware was early decorated porcelain produced in Arita, Hizen. The porcelain body at this point was not a very refined one, but the bold forms and innovative decorations offset the imperfection. It was popular at the time to use large plates with overglaze decoration at parties, and a large number of superb plates were produced. The designs on these wares were quick to incorporate popular motifs of the time, such as kosode (type of kimono) designs published in Ohiinagata (samples of motifs) (1667) or the motifs of Chinese-style paintings depicted in Hasshu Gafu (picture book on eight types of motifs). In some cases geometric patterns such as lozenge or tortoise shell designs are used skillfully that render innovative and even modern effects. Another important feature of Ko-Kutani ware is that no two examples have the same design. The value of these pieces as limited edition ware must surely have satisfied the demand of the wealthy class. In recent years, examples of Ko-Kutani ware have been unearthed in sites in Southeast Asia, indicating the need for a reevaluation of its distribution, though it was produced mainly for the domestic market. Excavations of kiln sites in Kutani, Ishikawa Prefecture, have revealed that porcelain was already being produced in Kutani in 1655. Further research is needed regarding the relationship between Kutani and Ko-Kutani ware.

(2)Kakiemon Style

Kakiemon style ware is named after SAKAIDA Kakiemon I (?-1666) who contributed to the development of decorated porcelain in Japan. The term, though, is also used to generally describe high-quality porcelain decorated with overglaze enamels and made in Arita for export. With the development of the technique of overglaze enamel decoration, the quality of porcelain clay bodies also improved, which resulted in the creation of a milky white porcelain clay body known as nigoshi-de. Recent archaeological excavations tell us that this development occurred in the 1670s in the Enpo era (1673-80). While making effective use of the white nigoshi-de body, bright red designs of flowers and animals were painted with a delicate, elegant touch. This led to the perfection of the so-called Kakiemon style. The forms were created mainly using jigger wheels, which made it possible to produce thin pieces without warping, for a sharp, delicate effect. From excavations in Akae-cho ruins, it is clear that the development of Kakiemon porcelain was based on Ko-Kutani ware. However, the Kakiemon style developed within the framework of Chinese Qing dynasty wucai ware and overglaze decorated Jingdezhen ware of the Kangxi era (1662-1722). At first Kakiemon style ware was in demand as a substitute for such Chinese porcelain, and its stylistic feature is quite different from Ko-Kutani, which was produced mainly for the domestic market. From the second half of the 17th century, molded figurines were also produced. Molds for such pieces have been excavated from the Akae-cho ruins.

Kakiemon ware was exported to Europe by the Dutch V.O.C. (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie). Around 1710 the German Meissen factory was the first in Europe to successfully produce porcelain, and imitations of Kakiemon ware were produced there, along with other porcelain factories such as Sevres in France and Chelsea in England.

(3)Ko-Imari Style

Among the Edo-period porcelain produced in the Hizen region, there is ware known as early Imari, which is blue-and-white ware produced until the 1640s. On the other hand, porcelain decorated with overglaze enamels and influenced by wucai and kinrande of China's Jingdezhen began to be produced during the 1690s. This type of ware is known as Ko-Imari style.

In 1659, as exports from Jingdezhen were halted, Arita kilns received large orders of ware for export to Southeast Asia and Europe. Incorporating the wucai ware of the late Ming dynasty as well as the baroque taste which was popular in Europe at the time, Arita kilns developed the elaborately decorated ware known as somenishiki-de, which became the major export item. In the Genroku era (1688-1704), imitating the kinrande ware from Jingdezhen ware of the Jiajing (1522-66) and Wanli (1573-1619) periods, gold decoration was applied to somenishiki-de ware, creating its unique kinrande style. This was to replace Kakiemon style ware in responding to domestic demand, and as the flower of export porcelain, also satisfied demand in Europe.

(4)Nabeshima Style

As porcelain production was established and developed, its commercial value increased. The ruling Nabeshima clan whose fief included Arita strengthened its control over porcelain production, and in 1647 the clan assigned a magistrate to Sarayama. The clan established a directly operated kiln, a kind of official kiln, at Iwayakawachi in Arita in the Kanei era (1624-44) to produce especially high grade porcelain for use by the clan itself, as well as for contributions to the Shogun and gifts to various daimyo or lords. It was at this kiln that the Nabeshima style was originated. In the Kanbun era (1661-73) the clan kiln was moved to Nangawara in Arita, and moved again in 1675 to Okawachi Mountain in Imari. Under strict standardization and quality control, along with complete division of labor patterned after Jingdezhen, highly skilled craftsmen produced superb wares of stylized beauty. The kiln entered its golden age in the Genroku era (1688-1704) at Okawachi. Representative of the Nabeshima style is called iro-Nabeshima or porcelain with overglaze polychrome enamel, which has sophisticated Japanese-style designs executed by highly accomplished artisans, and has a superior character appropriate to the ware of an official kiln. Typical form of Nabeshima ware is a deep dish with a tall foot known as mokuhai-gata (a wooden wine-cup shape). Sizes are rigidly standardized into one shaku, seven sun, five sun, or three sun (one sun =3.03 cm/ten sun = one shaku).

The Spread of Porcelain

From 1640 to 1650, the production system in Arita underwent a large-scale transformation from traditional system based on Korean techniques to a Chinese-style system. It has been pointed out that one of the reasons for this was the outflow of pottery technology from southern China due to the internal confusion resulting from the change of dynasty from the Ming to the Qing. In 1661, the prohibition on overseas contacts for the Chinese caused trade in Jingdezhen porcelain to come to a complete halt, and as a replacement Arita became the focus of attention which could meet the demand of both domestic and overseas. The Arita kilns introduced the latest Chinese porcelain production technology, and from 1659 the Dutch V.O.C. placed orders for large amounts of porcelain with Arita factories. As a result, Arita ware was able to raise the standard of its ware to a level competitive with Jingdezhen. This marked the beginning of the age of vast exports of Hizen porcelain. From the 1650-1660s, imitations of Chinese fuyode (kraak ware) type large dishes blue-and-white large dishes were produced for export in great quantities. The porcelain decorated with overglaze enamels which developed as a result of the technological innovations also gained popularity as export ware, especially in Europe.

In 1684, the prohibition on overseas contacts for the Chinese was rescinded, and export of Jingdezhen ware was resumed. This caused demand for Hizen porcelain to decrease dramatically, and production shifted to blue-and-white tableware targeting the domestic market. Prices became cheaper and the ware simpler and more standardized, with the result that the use of porcelain spread to the common people. The production of porcelain began in Arita in the 1610s, but even in the 17th century, the only kilns known to have produced porcelain outside of Arita are Kutani (Ishikawa prefecture) and Himetani (Hiroshima prefecture). This is because the Nabeshima clan, aware of the commercial value of porcelain, strictly controlled the porcelain kilns, guarding against the spread of the technology to other clans. The outflow of technology could not be halted completely, however, and by the 18th century porcelain production had begun in other areas of Kyushu. In the Tenmei era (1781-88) kilns in Kyoto began to fire porcelain. In the second half of the 18th century, porcelain kilns were established around the country, such as Tobe ware (Ehime Prefecture), Sue ware, (Fukuoka Prefecture), Komine ware (Miyazaki Prefecture), and Ito ware (Shimane Prefecture). In the Bunka era (1804~l8), blue-and-white porcelain was successfully fired in Seto, after which production expanded dramatically. Eventually, the porcelain production in Seto overtook that of its Japanese birthplace, Arita, and in eastern Japan the term Seto-mono (wares from Seto) came to mean pottery as a whole.



Literally "lacquer coating." Lacquer ware is also called shikki (lacquer ware) or nurimono (coated things). Japanese lacquer is a highly toxic nonresinous sap from the Rhus verniciflua tree (the same genus of poison ivy and poison oak) which hardens rather than dries. The poisonous aspect of the medium generally limits its use to special artisans. Lacquer construction has three stages : kiji, or forming the base, body, or core of wood or sometimes basketry, leather and paper ; application of lacquer coatings to seal and protect the object; and decoration of the surface. Application of urushi differs regionally, but there are three basic types of lacquer coats: undercoats shitaji, middle coats naka-nuri, and final coats uwa-nuri. Some styles omit the nakanuri, while the final coat always uses the most highly refined lacquer because this is the surface which is decorated. In gold decoration makie, the final coat is a high-gloss, transparent lacquer rouiro. In Japan red-and-black-lacquered earhenware pots date from ca. 4500 BC. After 1599 systems for culivating lacquer trees and improving lacquering techniques were developed. In the 18c, colored lacquers and makie became widespread.
There are several basic lacquer techniques, but decorative techniques are numerous. Ikkanbari, also called harinuki, is a paper-based lacquer used for teawares. Layers of lacquer-glued paper are applied to the interior of a mold and coated with lacquer when removed from the mold. Hirai Ikkan (1578-1657), a naturalized Chinese reportedly invented the technique in the Kan'ei era (1624-44) when he became lacquer master to Sen Soutan (1578-1658). Iro-urushi is a multi-colored lacquer in which ganryou (pigments) are mixed into suki-urushi (clear lacquer). Traditionally only five natural pigments (red, black, yellow, green and brown) were used, but since the Meiji period white and neutral tints were made chemically. Shunkei-nuri is a technique of applying transparent urushi over wood grain so the natural wood pattern shows through. Popular in the 17c, it was reportedly invented by a 14c lacquermaster named Shunkei. A variety of lacquer types evolved in regional production centers. Negoro-nuri was made at Negoroji in Wakayama prefecture. The red surface wears to reveal the underlying black; this effect was later deliberately imitated. Tsugaru-nuri is made in Tsugaru, Aomori prefecture. Muliple layers of colored lacquer (usually green, red, yellow and brown) produce a spotted-marbled effect. The technique reportedly was used first in 1685 by Ikeda Gentarou, the son of lacquer master Ikeda Genbee. Aizu-nuri has been made in the Aizu area of Fukushima prefecture from the late 16c, with peak output in 1878. There are two methods of priming. In the shibushitaji process, lamp black is mixed with persimmon tannin and applied as a primer then burnished when dry ; or persimmon tannin is applied alone, and burnished, before lacquer is applied. In the sabishitaji technique a clay-like primer is applied and burnished when hard. A lacquer undercoat follows the sabi and, after burnishing, intermediate and final coats are applied. The Aizu region also developed chinkin, incising a design into the lacquer surface, then applying a thin layer of lacquer and applying gold dust or gold foil to the tacky lacquer. Jouhana-nuri, also called jouhana makie (jigoemon-nuri), was developed in Jouhana in Toyama prefecture by Hata Jigoemon and Hata Tokuzaemon in the early 17c. It uses techniques of mitsuda-e and keifun-makie and has a white color. In ‚—akasa-nuri, made since ca. 1660 at Wakasa in Fukui prefecture, layers of different colored lacquers are applied to a ground roughened by the addition of pieces of egg shell or rice chaff. Thin gold or silver foil is pressed into the indentations and a coating of transparent lacquer is applied then polished to make a smooth surface. Kuroe-nuri, also called kainan shikki , is made in Kuroe, Kainan city, Wakayama prefecture. In 1826, professional lacquer craftmen were invited to Osaka; in the Ansei era (1854-60) makie was introduced; in 1879 the chinkinbori (lacquer ware inlaid with gold) technique was introduced by Kyoto craftsmen.
1  Painting done with colored lacquer iro-urushi, made by mixing pigments in a base of transparent lacquer suki-urusi. Until the Edo period, five colors - red, black, yellow, green, and light brown - were available through the use of natural pigments. White lacquer was not produced until the mid 19c. One extant example of urushi-e dates back to the early Joumon period: a fragment of earthenware decorated with a simple pattern in red lacquer was found in the Torihama shellmound kaizuka, in Fukui prefecture. The decoration on the Tamamushi miniature shrine, Tamamushi no zushi (mid-7c) in Houryuuji , Nara, is thought to be done by mixed techniques of urushi-e and mitsuda-e . From the Nara period, painting in red lacquer against a black background was favored by aristocrats for lacquered wood utensils and furniture. Around the Momoyama period (16c) daily and ceremonial lacquerware decorated with colorful urushi-e or mitsuda-e became very popular. Complicated designs of flowers, birds, animals, and scenes from old stories were depicted and often made more decorative by using gold powders sunago and gold leafkimpaku. Local traditions of painted lacquerware continue in many areas today.

2  A type of early hand-colored ukiyo-e‚ woodblock print. Animal collagen glue nikawa was added to black ink sumi to give a lustrous appearance, which was reminiscent of black lacquer. It was used primarily for hairstyles and costume details such as obi. In part to balance the strong black areas, other colors were made brighter. Bronze or brass powder as well as fine mica flakes ummo were sometimes sprinkled onto these prints. Urushi-e was used primarily in the Kyouhou era (1716-36), and in the Kampou era (1741-44), but can be seen as late as 1764 on large works. The technique appears on the prints of artists such as Okumura Masanobu (1686-1764), Nishimura Shigenaga (1697?-1756) and the Torii school Toriiha masters Torii Kiyonobu (1664-1729) and Kiyomasu (fl.c.1696-1716).
Lit. pictures of the floating world. Paintings and woodblock prints of genre themes developed from late 17c to late 19c (mid-Edo to early Meiji periods), supported by the people in the middle class of society shomin, or ("common people") mainly in the city of Edo. Because of this locality, ukiyo-e was also called edo-e or azuma-e, (lit. eastern pictures), during the Edo period. In the broader sense of the term, however, ukiyo-e includes various local paintings appreciated by common people in the Edo period all over Japan, such as ootsu-e (comical, folk painting produced in Ootsu, Shiga prefecture), nagasaki hanga (woodblock prints depicting foreign people and objects seen in Nagasaki, Nagasaki prefecture), and kamigata-e (woodblock prints) produced in the Kyoto-Osaka area kamigata, mostly portrayals of the kabuki (actors popular there).
The term ukiyo-e, which is first found in literature during the first half of the 1680's, derives from the fact that they depict the activities of a transient ("floating"), but therefore enjoyable world. Pictures of beautiful women bijinga and young boys, particularly the courtesans of the pleasure quarters yuujo, scenes from kabuki plays shibai-e and portraits of popular actors yakusha-e, and pornographic pictures shunga are the three major subjects of ukiyo-e. Literary themes taken from poems and stories from Japan and China were also popular, pictures of heroic warriors musha-e being particularly favoured throughout the period. Often the classic themes were parodied or represented in mundane, contemporary circumstances.
Ukiyo-e were mass-produced in order to fulfill a great demand among middle-class people, who were their major appreciators. Therefore, the principal form of ukiyo-e were woodblock prints, which were planned by the publisher hanmoto and produced in collaboration with the painter/designer eshi, carver horishi and printer surishi. Even hand-paintings nikuhitsuga were produced in large quantities in workshops under the direction of a master artist who designed the product, supervised its coloring by his pupils and signed them . Because of the vagaries of this studio system several versions of the same painting with slight differences often exist in ukiyo-e.
Art historically, ukiyo-e is placed at the end of the development of kinseishoki fuuzokuga (genre painting of the Early Modern period). Although early ukiyo-e artists signed themselves as painters of yamato-e suggesting that ukiyo-e succeeded the tradition of native Japanese paintings, the influence of various pictorial styles of the period, including that of the Kanouha, Tosaha, youfuuga (western style painting) and shaseiga (realistic painting), can be found in ukiyo-e . The history of ukiyo-e can be devided into three periods.
Period 1) Meireki to Houreki eras (1655-1764)
prints derived from book illustrations. Book publishing had been popular in the kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka) area already in the early 17c, but after the disastrous fire of 1657, books began to be published in Edo. The proportion of illustrations in a book became bigger and bigger, and at last the texts became only one fifth of a whole page. The next step was for illustrations to become independent of the text and appreciated for themselves. Like Hishikawa Moronobu's (?-1694) "Scenes of Yoshiwara" Yoshiwara no tai, they typically consisted of a set kumimono of twelve prints, which mostly depicted scenes from popular stories or pornography. Ukiyo-e is generally thought to have originated with Moronobu, who declared in the preface of the book he illustrated, "Monthly Amusements" Tsukinami no Asobi (1683), that he invented "ukiyo-e" and became a leading painter. Around 1700, single-sheet woodblock prints ichimai-e began to be sold alone and became the dominant form in Edo. To begin with the prints were all in black sumi, sumizuri-e , with occasional hand colouring fudezaishiki (lit. brush coloring) added separately. Very strong, orange-red tan, or "lead-red" and in some cases green were boldly applied to the drawings with strong, wavy lines in tan-e .
Moronobu's paintings of beauties and/or of the pleasure quarters were succeeded by the work of artists of the Kaigetsudou school Kaigetsudouha which lasted for only about a generation. At the same time the artists of the Torii school Toriiha, which is still in existance today took in a monopoly in kabuki theatrical posters and actor prints. Torii Kiyonobu (1664-1729) and Kiyomasu (act. early 18c) invented a unique manner with strong stylisation in tan-e for depicting kabuki actors, and established the Torii school.
In the first half of 18c, beni-e became prominent, lit. vermillion painting, in which lighter, rose-red paint/ink made of safflowers beni and light green kusajiru (lit. grass sap,) were more meticulously applied on more sophisticated drawings with thinner lines. In order to give an accent to prints that were otherwise too simple, hair and obi belts, etc. were often highlighted with dark, glossy black, made by adding nikawa glue to sumi, in urushi-e ("lacquer painting" because of the gloss). In 1774, with the invention of kentou, color impressions irohan began to be added to the keyblock impression omohan in sumi. Because rose-red and grass-green were the primary colors, they were called benizuri-e. Okumura Masanobu (1686-1764), who produced excellent beni prints during this period, was an innovative artist with many new ideas, such as a triptych with a continuous composition soroimono, in long vertical format to be hung a pillar hashira-e, as well as uki-e, lit. floating pictures, a print characterised by experimental application with an exaggerrated use of western perspective.
Period 2) Meiwa to Kansei ­ eras (1764-1801)
The latter half of 18c is considered to be the classical period of ukiyo-e in terms of artistic quality. The technique of ukiyo-e prints reached its peak when multi-colored woodblock prints nishiki-e (lit. brocade pictures) were produced for extravagant calendars (e-goyomi, lit. painting calendar,) by Suzuki Harunobu (1725-70) in 1765. Harunobu's lovely, doll-like figures in classical and/or poetic settings (often in mitate-e) were replaced by slender ladies in contemporary settings as painted by Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) in the 1780's. Kiyonaga's beauties are often in groups, and painted on a set of two or three sheets of paper with a continuous composition. Kitagawa Utamaro (1754-1806) was the most popular painter of beauties in the 1790's. He depicted not only courtesans but also ordinary women, often as a bust ookubi-e, and successfully depicted the inner emotions of the ladies depicted by their subtle expressions and gestures.
Prints of kabuki actors were still produced by Torii school artists, and their formal style became a standard. In 1770's, Katsukawa Shunshou (1726-92) created more realistic portraits nigao-e (lit. likeness painting) of actors, which have been popular ever since. In 1794, Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825) published a series of "full-length portraits of actors" Yakusha butai no sugata-e . His eclectic style depicting the dramatic postures of actors became extremely successful and eventually led to the establishment of the Utagawaha, the dominant ukiyo-e school in 19c. On the other hand, Toushuusai Sharaku (act. 1794) published a series of close-up portraits ookubi-e of actors in May 1794. His extremely realistic works seemed sensational at that time, but his style may have been too radical for ordinary people, and ten months later his name suddenly disappeared from the records.
Period 3) Kyouwa to Keiou eras (1801-68)
After 1800, ukiyo-e prints were produed in much larger quantities with wider variations of themes, such as landscapes, birds and flowers, historical stories and warriors, satiric and/or comical cartoons, in addition to the beauties, actors, and pornography. Pictures designed for toys omocha-e, such as playing cards, kites, etc, are also generally included.
The artists of the Utagawa school were the most prosperous, but their pictures of the beauties and actors became stylized and manneristic. Two of the most well-known masters of landscape prints in this period are Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (also known as Andou Hiroshige, 1797-1858). Hokusai's well-structured landscapes, represented by the "Thirty-six Views of Mt.Fuji" Fugaku Sanjuurokkei (1831-33), contrast with Hiroshige's intimate views as found in the "Fifty-three Stations on the Toukaidou" Toukaidou Gojuusantsugi (1833). Another artist worth noting is Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), who became particularly popular in warrior prints, caricatures, and contemporary townscapes.
The introduction of photography and lithography sekihanga put an end to the innovative developement of ukiyo-e, and Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) is often thought to be the last true ukiyo-e painter. As interest in ukiyo-e declined in Japan after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, many works were exported while others were simply used as wrapping paper. The art of ukiyo-e woodblock prints underwent great re-evaluation in Europe and America in late 19c to early 20c, and greatly influenced the artistic movements of Impressionism and Art Nouveau.
Lit. "sprinkled picture." A technique which originated in the Heian period for lacquer ware decoration in which designs are made by scattering adhesive metal or color powder in soft lacquer or directly on wood. Commonly used powders are gold, silver, aokin (an alloy of gold and silver), tin, shakudou (an alloy of copper and gold), gunmetal, an alloy of three parts copper to one of silver, brass, lead, aluminum, platinum, pewter, and kanshitsufun (dry-lacquer powder). Paint powders include yasurifun (coarse flakes produced by filing), hiramefun (flattened coarse flakes), nashijifun (fine flakes used for pearskin lacquer decoration), marufun (grain-shaped flakes) and keshifun (frosted gold leaf). Two kinds of soft brushes are used for line drawing and applying the first coat: funzutsu (a bamboo tube with a silk or gauze net for laying powder) and tsumeban (made of water-buffalo horn or tortoise shell for lacquer paint). Also used are the jouban (box table), wide hake brush and hair stick. Techniques are divided into three types. In the togidashi makie (burnished makie) technique popular in the Heian period, after the low relief sprinkled design and ground harden, they are covered in transparent or black lacquer, then polished down with charcoal until the design is flush with the new ground. Togidashi largely replaced the makkinru technique in which coarse gold filings were sprinkled over the wet design surface, relacquered, and polished until the design was revealed. Hiramakie (flat makie), introduced in the Kamakura period, features sprinkled powders applied directly on the smooth lacquered surface in very low relief so only the thickness of the final protective lacquer coating is raised above the surface. In takamakie (raised makie), developed in the Muromachi period, metallic powders are applied to soft surface designs built up through a mixture of lacquer and charcoal or clay dust. They are affixed by a protective lacquer coat and polished. Cut metal shapes kirikane and metal nacre, kanagai techniques are often used in conjunction. Shishiai makie or shishiai togidashi makie a combination of the takamakie and togidashimakie techniques, was used frequently in landscapes where such elements as rocks, clouds, or mountains are done in a raised design that slopes gently into a flattened design. Ikakeji a precursor to the fundami technique, is the process through which a ground is made by the heavy sprinkling of gold or silver powder in one coat. Makie application techniques include tsukegaki (drawing with narrow lacquer lines and oversprinkling with gold and silver filings), kakiwari (design motifs are emphasised with liqued lacquer and sprinkled gold and silver, while boarders are left plain), and abisemaki (entire flower petals or leaves are scattered with gold fillings, and then outlines and veins are presented in higher or lower relief). Sprinkling techniques include jimaki (metal filings or pigment are deposited on the background of design motifs), chirimaki (coarse filings of gold or silver are sprinkled over the lacquered surface of an object), heijin (where additional lacquer is applied over chirimaki decoration and then polished away with abrasives after it dries), and ikakeji (a type of jimaki where gold and silver powder is sprinkled densely over the lacquered ground), hirameji (filed and pressed coarse metal flakes are sprinkled over a half-dry lacquer surface, recoated, and finally polished to expose metal flakes), and nashiji. Such techniques as raden (lacquerware with mother-of-pearl inlay), hyoumon (imbedding of shapes cut out from gold, silver or tin sheets) may be used. Makie objects were first made as household goods for court nobles. Soon military leaders became patrons and makie styles evolved to serve new tastes. Nashiji (pear-skin ground), is the name given to two widely-used styles invented in the Kamakura period. In one, large irregular shaped gold flakes are scattered at differing angles in many layers in wet nashiji urushi a highly translucent lacquer that has been tinted orange; a further coating is applied and polishing exposes the flakes to produce an uneven surface texture. It is often used to give a uniformly decorative surface to large but less important areas, such as the insides of drawers or the bottoms of boxes. In the other nashiji technique, a fine metallic powder is sprinkled onto a lacquered surface; when dry, a coat of transparent lacquer is applied and lightly polished. Under the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (ruled 1449-74), lacquers in the so-called Higashiyama style flourished. Kouami Douchou (1410-78), the first lacquer master linked to specific works, used designs by such contemporary painters as Tosa Mitsunobu (1434-1525), Nouami (1397-1471), and Souami (d. 1525). Kouami and another makie master, Igarashi Shinsai (act mid-15c), started the two earliest schools of lacquer under direct shogunal patronage. The Kouami school Kouamiha continued in a direct line of descent to make lacquer ware for the shogunate until the 19c, typically with designs inspired by master painters of the Kanou school Kanouha. A rival was the Igarashi school Igarashiha founded by Igarashi Shinsai under Ashikaga Yoshimasa and continuing through the 17c. Ryuukyuu shikki made in Okinawa and the Amami Islands, was made from about 1500. Influenced by Chinese lacquer styles, the tsuikin technique derived from ryuukyuu shikki. Tsuikin consisted of making a dough from lacquer solution and colored pigments, rolling this out, punching or cutting this into engraved patterns, and applying to the surface of a lacquered object. In the Momoyama period, a new, ultra-refined style of hiramakie was called koudaiji makie. Associated with the temple Koudaiji Kyoto, it used a black lacquer base decorated in the hiramakie style with e-nashiji (sprinkling coarse flakes of gold over the whole surface or the background space on lacquerware), and harigaki (engraving in lacquer with a needle). In the early Edo period, a special lacquer ware which mixed mother-of-pearl inlay with hiramakie was called nanban makie or nanban shitsugei. Displaying mostly Portuguese or Dutch motifs it is found most often on trunks made for the European export market. In the Edo period, Honnami Kouetsu (1558-1637) and Ogata Kourin (1658-1716) developed their own designs and techniques. At the end of the Edo period, techniques became more complicated, but the quality of materials declined and expression became perfunctory.
Wajima Chinkin
Also called chinkinbori a technique developed in Aizunuri that involves cutting a design into a lacquered surface, applying a thin layer of lacquer into the incised lines, then applying gold foil, gold dust, or colored dust over the soft lacquer to form a contrast with the ground. When the lacquer dries, the gold is cemented into the incised design.
Introduced from China to Japan in the Muromachi period; Wajima lacquerware, wajima chinkin was further developed in the later Edo period. 
Lit. cut-gold.
1Metal foil, haku generally gold or silver, cut into long, thin strips, or, triangular, square, and lozenge shapes systematically arranged to form lines or a decorative pattern on sculptures and paintings (see kirihaku). Exquisite use of kirikane is often found in the decoration of the robes of Buddhist images. The technique was passed down from Tang China and reached Japan around 7c (Hakuhou period). Kirikane is found on the late 7c "Four Guardian Kings" Shitennou in the Golden Hall, Kondou of Houryuuji and on the 8c "Four Guardian Kings" at Toudaiji . The kirikane technique was popular in the late Heian period (9-12c) for both sculpture and painting. An outstanding example from this period is the 12c painting of Bodhisattava Kokuuzou in the Tokyo National Museum. In the early 13c (Kamakura period) examples of the designs became more delicate and complicated, but often conventional and stylized. Since the mid-13c gold outlines tended to be drawn in gold paint (kindei and thereafter the use of kirikane declined.
2@A decorative technique used on makie (gold and silver applied to lacquer). A thin sheet of metal, generally gold or silver, is cut into squares, rectangles and triangles and affixed with lacquer forming clouds, mist, ground, trees and rocks. This technique was first developed in the Kamakura period and soon became highly prized for its ornate quality.
Lit. cut-foil. A method of ornamentation using gold and/or silver leaf cut haku into different shaped pieces and applied to various surfaces with rice paste or lacquer. The term also applies to cut foil itself. The kirikane technique was developed in the 10c-11c (mid Heian period) and was most commonly used to decorate writing papers, sutras, illustrated handscrolls, e-maki and screens. Different names are given to the various sizes and shapes of kirihaku in accordance with their resemblance to natural objects: large pieces are called ishi or "stones"; fine, long, narrow pieces noge for their resemblance to the tips or 'beards' of pampas grass; smaller square pieces arare "hailstones", or sansho "black pepper"; and the finest ones sunago for their similarity to grains of sand. Those lacking a specific form are called momihaku because they appear rubbed rather than cut. Kirihaku is similar to kirikane but kirihaku is sprinkled over a surface, not deliberately pasted, thus the resultant pattern is irregular and spontaneous.
Lit. foil or leaf. Gold, silver, copper, tin or brass pounded into a thin flat sheet and used for the decoration of art works and craft objects. Gold kinpaku and silver ginpaku were most frequently used. A thin block of metal is wrapped in leather or washi (Japanese paper) and pounded with a wooden or bamboo mallet until it is about 1/10,000 of 1mm in thickness (the Heian/Kamakura examples are thicker). The sheets are then cut into approximately 10cm-squares. Most metal foils are made in Kyoto and Kanazawa. The technique of affixing gold foil to the surface of an object with lacquer or glue nikawa is called kinpakuoshi. The earliest known example of haku in Japan is found on the wall painting of Takamatsuzuka tomb (late 7c-early 8c). During the Nara and Heian periods (7-12c), gold and silver foil were frequently used as decoration on Buddhist paintings and sculptures, as well as on writing paper. In a technique called shippaku gold/silver foil was pressed on top of lacquer applied to wood or to dry lacquer kanshitsu sculpture. Foil cut into small pieces was used to make exquisite designs on the garments of Buddhist deities kirikane and also sprinkled over the surface of writing papers for decoration kirihaku. Sometimes foil was applied to the back of a painting to produce a soft, lusterous sheen on the metal ornaments held by Buddhist deities urahaku. From the Muromachi period, gold foil, which was favoured by the shoguns, was amply used for extravagant architectural decoration, such as Ashikaga Yoshimitsu's (1358-1408) Golden Pavilion, Rokuonji Kinkaku and Toyotomi Hideyoshi's (1536?-98) Golden Teahouse, Kin no chashitsu. Gold foil also was used extensively for interior decoration, and the gold background kinji of paintings on screens and sliding doors kinpeki shouhekiga. Gold/silver foil is also frequently used to decorate craft objects. It is affixed to lacquerware haku-e and pressed onto textiles. Generally gold and silver foil is applied inkin with glue or lacquer, however, during the Momoyama period (16-17c), a variation of this technique using rice paste as a bonding agent became popular (surihaku with embroidery), it is called nuihaku.
A type of foil (kirihaku), usually gold or silver, cut so finely that the pieces are as minute as grains of sand (suna). It is then sprinkled from a bamboo cylinder with small holes at the bottom over a thin layer of glue (nikawa) or lacquer which has been brushed across the areas to be decorated. Since the late Heian period (12c), paintings, lacquerware and sutra or writing papers have been decorated with sunago, which produces a soft but rich effect. The famous "Heike noukyou" sutra is a fine example of this technique and other types of cut-foil application. In paintings sunago is used in place of pigments to represent ground or mist as well as to suggest empty space.
A widely used description term which has carried various nuances in different periods, but generally applied to paintings whose subject matter, format and/or style are considered "Japanese," as opposed to something "foreign," or "Chinese." The term is derived from an ancient name for the Nara area where the earliest Japanese emperors (by the 6c) established the Yamato ‘å˜a court. The earliest documented use of the term yamato-e dates from the late 10c, but it is likely that by the late 9c Heian aristocrats had come to decorate their residences with folding screen byoubu and panel shouji paintings of landscapes with geographic features, seasonal references, or other genre elements that were recognizably Japanese. These secular types of subject matter including meisho-e and tsukinami-e (also shiki-e) were all called yamato-e to distinguish them from paintings with Chinese landscape or genre subject matter which were called kara-e. No large-scale Heian secular painting survives; however, fragmentary evidence of existing records and religious paintings suggest that yamato-e was painted in the same prevailing style as kara-e. Kara-e style was based on the Chinese Six Dynasties or Early Tang expression and techniques, and generally employed bright-colored, opaque pigments with figures clearly outlined and detailed in black sumi ink. In the Heian period small size paintings in handscroll or booklet format with Japanese subject matter were usually termed story illustrations monogatari-e or poetry paintings uta-e not yamato-e. Thus, in its earliest use, yamato-e seems to have referred to subject matter and/or format.
By the 12c, the application of yamato-e broadened with the introduction of ink painting suibokuga by Zen ‘T monks who had come from or studied in Yuan or Ming China. The new ink painting was clearly Chinese and was therefore given the name kara-e (or later kanga). With this change in the definition of kara-e came a change in the definition of yamato-e. During the middle ages yamato-e came to mean any painting in the tradition of the brightly colored style favored by the Heian court in any format (handscrolls included) regardless of subject matter.
Ink-painting flourished because of its connection with the Zen establishment, particularly among the warrior ruling classes. The new conservative style of yamato-e was favored by the court and aristocracy as a means of preserving the remnants of their power and cultural prestige. The aristocracy perpetuated the old rituals by both practising and patronizing the courtly arts of Japanese-style poetry and Japanese-style calligraphy, both of which are inextricably linked with yamato-e. The painters at the official atelier edokoro were therefore given great incentive to continue working in the yamato-e style. Their subjects came from the waka (Japanese poetry) anthologies, or the great tales of courtly romance and history in such works as GENJI MONOGATARI (The Tale of Genji), or HEIKE MONOGATARI (The Tale of The Heike), which often recalled the golden past of the court. Often these themes were imbued with a Buddhist awareness of the transcience of privilage, status and indeed of all life, themes which had a particular irony, considering the troubled times that existed outside the court during the late Kamakura and Muromachi periods.
After the 15c, when successive generations of the Tosa familyTosaha assumed headship azukari of the edokoro, yamato-e came to refer to paintings whose style was increasingly miniaturist and gilded. By the 16c, other distinct painting schools began to flourish, particularly the Kanou school Kanouha and yamato-e therefore became more deeply identified with the Tosa and related Sumiyoshi family Sumiyoshiha. Yamato-e also influenced the Rinpa and ukiyo-e styles.
In the late Edo period (late 18c/early 19c) artists following Tanaka Totsugen (1767-1823), such as Ukida Ikkei (1795-1859), and Okada Tamechika (1823-64), studied yamato-e from earlier periods (especially the Tosa tradition) and attempted to revive its style and themes. Many affiliated with the Yamato-e Revivalist School (Fukko yamato-eha) took dangerous political risks supporting a monarchist restoration in opposition to the failing Tokugawa government. Yamato-e continued to influence painters in the Meiji period (late 19c) particularly those whose particular interest was historic themes rekishigaha for one. Even in the 20c, yamato-e influenced the broad range of painting known as nihonga which employs the traditional yamato-e pigment and tools, as well as some of its style and themes.
Lit. bird-and-flower painting. Paintings of birds and flowers, flowers only kakiga, insects, plants souchuuga, or domestic animals reimouga . The bird-and-flower theme was a major one in yamato-e painting, although only those on lacquerware and metalwork survive from before the Kamakura period. The oldest extant paintings which treat bird-and-flower as an independent theme are the Muromachi period monochrome ink paintings done by Zen ‘T monks, influenced by paintings of the Song and Yuan dynasties sougenga. Influenced by Chinese Academic painting, professional artists in the 15c. began painting polychrome depictions of a bird-and-flower on screens. In many cases birds and flowers placed in a landscape setting progress seasonally across the screens from right to left or vice versa shiki kachou-zu. Kanou School, Kanouha artists are credited with creating a new style by synthesizing the ink-painting brushwork of Chinese painting with the flat, bright colors and abundant use of gold in traditional yamato-e painting. In the Momoyama period, bird-and-flower motifs were set against a brilliant gold background using gold leaf and painted on large-scale screen and walls in the interiors of residential castles. Two distinct styles emerged in the Edo period: the decorative rendering of flowers and grasses by Rinpa artists; and the naturalistic style by the artists of the Maruyama Shijouha, who synthesized the decorative yamato-e tradition with a fresh view of nature. Later, woodblock print, ukiyo-e artists like Andou Hiroshige (1797-1858) also employed bird-and flower designs.
Kanouha school
A hereditary school of professional artists, patronized by military governments from the late Muromachi (15c) to the early Meiji periods (19c). The Kanou school produced a large number of talented and distinguished painters, who worked in a wide variety of formats and styles on themes such as Buddhist subjects, Chinese figures, bird-and-flower paintings, animals, landscapes, genre paintings fuuzokuga nanban screens (nanban byoubu) and even maps of Japan and the world. The founder of the school, Kanou Masanobu (1434-1530), was a painter of samurai origin and succeeded Oguri Soutan (1413-81) as an official painter goyou-eshi to the Muromachi shogunate. He worked on both ink-painting suibokuga a new trend started by the 14c Zen ‘T priest-painters, and colorful yamato-e of Japanese origin. In ink-painting, in particular, he invented an original style employing light colors and simple compositions, which became very popular among the military government at that time. Kanou Motonobu (1476-1559), Masanobu's son, further strengthened the school by expanding his social and political connections to the upper strata of Muromachi society. Motonobu is credited with having established the orthodox Kanou style by combining yamato-e themes and techniques with ink-painting. This achievement is called by modern scholars the "synthesis of Japanese and Chinese" wakan yuugou. Motonobu also instituted a studio system that ensured the continued training of generations of painters. His son, Shouei (1519-92) passed this tradition on to the next, his own son, Eitoku (1543-90), who established a new heroic style. Patronized by Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) and then Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98), Eitoku produced monumental works at various rulers' castles and mansions. Responding to the demands of both patronage and architecture, Eitoku created a new, magnificent and brilliant style of painting on gold-foil backgrounds kinpeki shouhekiga. Huge trees, regal animals such as tigers, hawks and lions, as well as Chinese figural themes became part of these aggressive and confident designs. A representative example of Eitoku's grand style is the pair of huge screens called the "Chinese Lions" (Karajishi-zu) Imperial Collection. Eitoku also employed genre themes. A pair of screens of the "Scenes In and Around Kyoto" (Rakuchuu rakugai-zu) Uesugi collection, was recorded to have been presented by Nobunaga to General Uesugi Kenshin (1530-78) in 1574. It is often cited as a forerunner of genre painting as developed in the 17c. Other early Kanou artists who employed genre themes included Kanou Hideyori (d.1557) "Maple Viewing of Mt Takao"; (Takao kanpuu-zu) Tokyo National Museum), Naganobu (1577-1654) "Merrymaking Under the Cherry Blossoms" (Kaka yuuraku-zu) Tokyo National Museum and Naizen (1570-1616) "Houkoku Festival" (Houkoku sairei-zu) Houkoku Jinja Kyoto). Two major Kanou artists of the late 16c were Mitsunobu (1561-1608), Eitoku's son, and Sanraku (1559-1635), Eitoku's disciple. These painters did not continue their master's monumental style but worked in their own manner, characterized by more fragmented compositions, quieter moods, delicacy, elegance and decorativeness. Sanraku's heir, Sansetsu (1589-1651), became the leader of the Kanou school in Kyoto Kyouganou (1631-97), Sansetsu's son, is most famous as the author of the HONCHOU GASHI one of the earliest biographical histories of the artists of Japan. It was Mitsunobu and his followers who started to serve Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616). Mitsunobu twice went to Edo, where the Tokugawa government was established in 1603. The major Kanou artist of the early Edo period was Tan'yuu (1602-74), Mitsunobu's nephew, a child prodigy who became the first official painter to the Tokugawa shogunate in 1617 at the age of 16. Tan'yuu with his brothers Naonobu (1607-50) and Yasunobu (1614-85) worked to decorate two magnificent structures built at the time: Nijoujou Kyoto, in 1626 and the Jourakuden of Nagoyajou in 1634. Tan'yuu created a unique style, particularly in ink painting, which was characterized by the use of wide empty space, plain composition and refined brushwork and was to be influential for a long time. In the mid-17c Tan'yuu's brothers also became official painters for the Tokugawa family, and thus the core of the Kanou school moved to Edo. In Edo there were four major branches oku-eshi and twelve minor branches omote-eshi of the Kanou school employed by the shogunate. In addition, many daimyou employed artists in the same mould who were in the most part able students and followers of the upper level Kanou artists. The various Kanou painters thus secured a virtual monopoly of the commisions among the Tokugawa military elite. Some artists trained in the Kanou ateliers, however, were not patronized and opened shops in towns michiganou and formed the level of the Kanou organization. Some were allowed to use the Kanou family name, while others used their own family names. The Kanou school overwhelmed the world of Edo painting. All who had any ambition in painting came to a greater or lesser degree under the influence of the school. Kanou painting in the latter half of the Edo period was characterized by the eclectic manner originated by Tan'yuu with additional elements derived from Rinpa works and even touches of naturalism. Other features of the school include the practices of repeating the same subject matter and copying their masters' works in order to both polish their skills and maintain the school's tradition. Minutely codified formulations extending even to the manner of holding and moving the brush were passed down from master to pupil. The school eventually became so orthodox and dogmatic that progressive painters, while receiving some training from Kanou painters, often disassociated themselves from the school in the end. Among the painters who had dropped out from the Kanou organization, Kusumi Morikage (act. mid-17c) and Hanabusa Itchou (1652-1724) are especially well-known. Although the Kanou school lost official patronage after the beginning of the Meiji period (1868), several artists with strong connections to the Kanou school rose to prominance. Kanou Hougai (1828-88), Hashimoto Gahou (1835-1908) and Kawanabe Gyousai (1831-89) all served for years as Kanou school painters before developing their own styles and professional careers on an independent basis.



Lit. the hot water for tea. Also known as sadou or chadou. The ritual art of preparing and drinking green tea. Chanoyu has been an integral part of Japanese culture since the 15c, an important well-spring of native aesthetics, and a major inspiration for the development of new styles of ceramics, architecture, garden design, decorative arts and painting. Chanoyu has also been a dominant force in connoisseurship and collecting, and has come to be closely linked with the aesthetic concepts of, simple taste wabi and suki. Tea drinking originated in China where it was associated with pharmacology and Daoist beliefs in alchemy and immortality. Lu Yu's (d.804) Treatise on Tea (Ch: Chajing, Jp: CHAKEI , trans. F.R.Carpenter, The Classic of Tea, Boston, Little Brown, 1974) outlined the many virtues of tea as well as explaining its history, the proper method of preparation and the attendant aesthetic of drinking it. Although compressed tea dancha was drunk in Japan for medical purposes since the Nara period (8c), it was in the 9c that courtiers drank tea during social gatherings and priests drank it at the conclusion of sutra readings ceremonies. In the late 11c the priest Joujin (1011-81) brought back tea bowls *chawan from Song dynasty China, and shortly after that the first powdered tea matcha was imported. The priest Eisai (1141-1215), after studying in China, returned to Japan with a new enthusiasm for tea drinking as an adjunct to Buddhist practice. In addition to planting tea, Eisai wrote KISSA YOUJOUKI in 1214, propagating the practice of tea because it preserves health, sharpens the mind, promotes ethical behavior, and leads to spiritual understanding. The book also explains the etiquette of tea preparation and drinking as Eisai learned it in China. Although tea drinking was formalized as monastic practice in some Zen ‘T temples, reportedly as an aid against drowsiness during meditation, by the first-half of the 14c the aesthetic dimensions of tea began to emerge. The expansion in tea drinking was facilitated by tea gatherings chayoriai in which the participants would attempt to distinguish the provenance of different teas based on taste and aroma. These tea-guessing contests, or toucha, were usually part of extravagant parties that featured alcohol, banqueting, music, dance, and poetry composition. The extravagant nature of these affairs earned them the name basara from the Sanshrit vajra or "diamond," implying excess. Basara style tea gatherings featured the conspicuous display of Japanese and particularly Chinese treasures karamono (Literally "Chinese things." The term is especially common in chanoyu to designate paintings, ceramics, lacquerware, textiles and other crafts, but has been used in a variety of contexts since the 8c. The appeal of karamono, as distinct from wamono or Japanese objects, is rooted in a fascination with the exoticism and prestige of Chinese culture. However, many karamono were not produced in China but came from Korea or other regions. Reverence for karamono is often associated with Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-90) whose collection of them was unsurpassed.) in the formal reception rooms zashiki. The decoration of the zashiki, called zashikikazari is illustrated in several painted handscrolls emaki of the period such as Boki-e (1351, Nishihonganji, Kyoto). The need for a room to hold literary and artistic gatherings led to the development of the 'gathering room' kaisho. The taste for Chinese artifacts fueled trade with Ming China and engendered the conspicuous collecting of Chinese and Korean ceramics and lacquer, particularly Song dynasty tenmoku (Ch: tianmu) tea bowls tenmoku jawan, as well as Song and Yuan paintings sougenga by artists such as Muqi (Jp: Mokkei, late 13c) and Liang Kai (Jp: Ryo Kai, early 13c). The basara type of tea party reached its height in the Kitayama cultural era Kitayama bunka. The large number of Chinese articles that flowed into Japan for display on the tea-utensil stand daisu brought about the need to authenticate genuine works. During the Higashiyama epoch Higashiyama bunka connoisseurs known as douboushuu (A title of artistic or cultural advisors in the Ashikaga shogunate, established about the time of Yosimitsu (r.1358-1408). At first the douboushuu were attendants in charge of miscellaneous personal affairs for the shoguns, but they became cultural advisors to the Ashikaga household as well. Duties included acting as curators of Chinese paintings and objects in the shogunal collections, and as experts on the repair and authentication of works of art. In addition, many of them displayed various talents, such as painting, and acting as masters of noh and kyougen drama, the incense ceremony, poetry writing, flower arrangement, various crafts, and garden design. The Chinese characters for "ami", from the name of the Buddha Amida, are found quite frequently among the names of douboushuu indicating a connection with the Jishuu Buddhist sect (although it would be incorrect to say that all douboushuu were adherents of the sect.) The social status of the douboushuu was not particularly high, and among their ranks were some who were referred to as kawaramono ("riverbed people", or "riverbank riffraff"). This derogatory term referred not only to outcasts and beggars but also actors and other entertainers, all of whom belonged to a landless segment of society on which no taxes were levied. They adopted the guise of a buddhist monk by becoming a priest, they were exempt from the caste system. Thus the douboushuu were seen as outside the strict heirarchy of rank based on birth and they could gain uniquely privilaged access and influence in the upper reaches of society. Among the early Ami artists, the master garden-designer Zen'ami (1393-?) who served under Yoshimasa (1435-90) seems to have come from such a background. Ryuuami the flower-arranger, and Chouami (?), the craftsman were also early Ami artists. In addition, three generations of painters and connoisseurs of art known in modern times as the Ami school (Amiha provided a new direction for development in Japanese ink painting during the late 16c and early 17c. In the Edo period the douboushuu had certain advisory and miscellaneous duties in service to the bakufu government and various major daimyou, but did not hold the influential positions which they had enjoyed during the earlier shogunate.) decided on the proper arrangement of tea wares and made catalogs of famous collections, such as the GYOMOTSU ON-E MOKUOKU. The "taste for Chinese treasures" karamono suki also led to their copy by Japanese artists, stimulating domestic ceramic and painting production. Chanoyu of the Higashiyama period also engendered a new environment for its drinking: the shoin, a room fitted with tatami mats, a decorative alcove tokonoma, staggered shelves chigaidana, and built-in table tsukeshoin. The Doujinsai shoin built for Ashikaga Yoshimasa ­(1436-90) in the Tougudou at his Higashiyama retreat in 1486 is considered the prototype of the shoin. The last decades of the 15c saw the further development of chanoyu away from basara practices as the tea master Murata Jukou (1422-1502) sought to integrate the taste for Chinese articles with the appreciation of more rustic native wares. This finding of beauty in things simple, austere, irregular and imperfect, was termed wabi. Jukou's follower Murata Souju, who held his tea gatherings in a small thatched hermitage *souan in the center of Kyoto, created a new taste that was soon adopted by wealthy merchants in the port of Sakai ä. Takeno Jouou (1502-55), originally a practioner of Japanese linked verse, renga, extended the concept of wabi along the ideals of eremitism long expressed in medieval literature by reducing his souan tea room to four and a half mats yojouhan and leaving many of the building materials in their natural state. Wabicha‚ or "wabi-style tea" reached its apogee in the late creations of another Sakai merchant, Sen Rikyuu (1522-91), who eventually served as tea master and confidant to the shogun, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98). Rikyuu used his position to champion wabicha, further reducing the souan in size and decor, patronizing new types of native ceramics such as rakuyaki, and making other kinds of tea implements out of unfinished bamboo. Rikyuu also added a spiritual aspect to chanoyu, linking the practice of chanoyu with the practice of Zen. In the Momoyama period chanoyu became increasingly popular with powerful military patrons, serving as proof of their cultural hegemony, a locus for political deal-making, and as an artistic retreat from a brutalized society. Furuta Oribe (1544-1615), a disciple of Rikyuu altered the direction of chanoyu, expanding the size of the souan, adding subsidiary rooms kusari-no-ma so it resembled a shoin, and utilizing new tea wares regarded as oddities hyougemono because of their bold designs and assymetrical, unique, shapes. Oribe also employed foreign (nanban designs and objects, adding to the heterdox and radical character of his aesthetic. Often called daimyoucha because of its supposed popularity among military patrons, Oribe's taste more accurately reflects the highly mannered spirit of the early 17c, epitomized by the word kabuku meaning "not to stand straight." The next major development in chanoyu was affected by Oribe's disciple Kobori Enshuu (1579-1647), who furthered the concept of daimyoucha, allying it with Confucian ideals of loyalty, and synthesized it with elegant, literary taste of his kireisabi asethetic. Like Oribe, Enshuu was a daimyou who served as tea master to the Tokugawa shogunate, but Enshuu's close connections with Zen priests, aristocrats, and his experience as a building and garden designer both broadened his approach to tea and helped disseminate his ideas in a variety of media. Enshuu not only wrought a reevalution of vast styles through his selection of new meibutsu, but significantly altered the design of the chashitsu, the type and display of tea wares, the function and style of calligraphy and painting, as well as the appearance and role of garden. Enshuu's innovations were borrowed and transformed by later tea masters such as Kanamori Souwa (1584-1656) and Katagiri Sekishuu (1605-73). Sen Soutan (1578-1658), although the reviver of Rikyuu's wabicha and often described solely in terms of the harsh aesthetic of gokuwabi or "wabi in the extreme," was also influenced by the "kirei taste of Kan'ei culture." As heir to the Rikyuu tradition of wabicha, Soutan enjoyed great popularity, and after his death three of his sons founded their own lineages which continue to disseminate wabicha throughtout Japan until the present day.


Lit. "tearoom." A Edo period communal living room usually containing a hearth (irori and often situated close to the earth-floored area doma. Its character and use varied according to the scale of the structure.

1  In relatively large residences of middle ranking warriors or leading farmers and merchants, chanoma was principally used by the women of the household or by female servants as a kind of common room, where meals were taken, some food prepared and informal conversation took place around the hearth. In the Kansai district in particular the term was often used to refer to the maidservants' room.

2  In smaller residences chanoma was often used interchangeably with ima or daidokoro to refer to the principal communal living room.

3  In north eastern Japan, along the Japan Sea coast from the prefectures of Niigata to Shimane, in Shikoku and in parts of Nagano prefecture, the term was used in traditional vernacular houses minka to refer to a large room adjacent to, and often opened to, the earth-floored area. Usually the room contained an hearth around which the family gathered for meals. The chanoma was often open to the rafters, allowing smoke to escape through a smokehole kemuridashi in the roof. Originally the floor was exposed timber boarding without mats tatami. Also, the family's Shinto and Buddhist altars kamidana and butsudan were often located in this room.


Implements necessary for the tea ceremony. Generally classified according to: (1) implements to be displayed in alcove, (2)Procedures and implements used for tea ceremony (3)cake dishes and servers, (4) implements for making a fire, (5) implements for handling charcoal, (6) implements used for lunch served in a tea ceremony room. Among these, one to four are of most importance.

1  At a formal tea ceremony a scroll jiku is hung in the alcove tokonoma, from the beginning of the ceremony until nakadachi. The scroll may be replaced at the recess by a vase hanaire of flowers hung on a nail in the center wall of the alcove. Such a formal tea ceremony is rare now and usually a scroll and flower vase are placed together in the alcove. The flower vase is either hung on a special nail called the flower nail hanakugi, on the alcove pillar, or placed on a wooden plaque, shiki-ta, on the straw mat in the alcove. This method of decoration is called multi-decoration morokazari.

2  Tea procedures rank from the most formal shin daisu, to a semi-formal method gyou to the informal wabi sou. The implements used for them and the decorations change accordingly. However, in each case, the implements are displayed and must be positioned so that the host can perform the ceremony with ease. The host is seated on the rear half of the mat. If the fireplace, dero, is on the front corner of the host's mat, usually he is seated diagonally toward it. When the fire box iriiro or furo is used, the host is seated facing the firebox so the front edge of his knees are at the center of the long side of the mat. In the most formal cases, the stand for utensils used for the tea ceremony daisu, is placed in the center of front half of the host's mat. A stove, furo, is used from May to October and a hearth cut in the floor kiriawase-no-furo is used from November to April. Kettles chanoyugama are made in a variety of shapes including circular, square, bag-shaped and Fuji-mountain shape. Lids are often made in unusual shapes. There is a stand for the kettle lid futaoki. Kettle stands kamashiki are made of bamboo or mino paper. A kettle hanger is called jizaikagi. A slop basin mizukoboshi Water containers, mizusashi are made in a great variety of shapes. There is also a ladle stand shakudate, a ladle hishaku and a pair of fire tongs hibashi. A set that includes all the utensils named above is called kaigu. On top of the daisu is a tea caddy chaki, tea bowl chawan, and a small cloth or napkin chakin. The tea whisk chasen, is placed inside it, and a teaspoon chashaku is placed across it. A daisu like shelf tanamono, is shorter than the rectangular daisu.

It may be square or round but it is small as it is placed on the front half of the host's mat together with the furo. In this case, the portable fireplace is on the kitchen side and a small shelf is on the side of the guest's mat. However, when there is a sunken fire box, there is no portable fireplace and the small shelf is placed where the tea container and water pitcher are displayed. When the tea ceremony room is most simpified there is no small shelf and either a square sunken fire box, ro, is cut in the floor or a portable fireplace is put in the tea room. The position of the portable fireplace is often on the kitchen side, but it could be in the center depending on the season. In that case the host carries all the necessary implements into the room. The order of carrying implements into the tearoom and their positions in a four and a half mat room yojouhangiri, is generally as follow: First the pitcher, carried with both hands is brought in and placed in the center of front half of the host's mat. If there is a portable firebox, it would be on the side. Next the tea container in the tea master's right hand, and tea bowl together with small cloth, tea whisk and tea spoon are carried in the left hand. These things are placed in front of the pitcher. Finally, the container for discarded water kensui Œš…, with a kettle cover holder inside it and a water ladle across the top is carried in the left hand. The teamaster then sits down at his place. Other implements besides those mentioned above are furosaki byoubu, a removable partition placed behind the portable fireplace. This is used only in large rooms hiroma. There is also a small wrapper fukusa, which is necessary for the tea ceremony. The host enters the tea room with this tucked in his sash. It is used for cleaning the tea container and tea spoon or for the lid when removed from the kettle. They are called chadougu.

3  Kashiki. Cake servers. The most formal type is called fuchidaka. It has a high rim and is like a nest of boxes, juubako. The number of boxes provided equals the number of people, and one cake is put in each layer. When the cake is served warm, it is put in a covered server jikirou. In this case, the guests are served from one server. However, in most cases, they are served from a bowl without a cover. Materials and shapes are diverse. Guests use a flat wooden pick kuromoji, or chopsticks to take the cake which they place on a stiff paper "dish," kaishi, to hold the cake which the guest brought. The guest should sit upright and back from the front edge of the mat.

4  Tougu. At the present electric lights are used in a tea ceremony room, but rape oil and wick on a small dish were used before the advent of electricity. For use in tea ceremony room there was tankei andon, a short portable lantern which consistsed of a stand, a post and an iron ring attached near the top of the post for a dish to be placed upon it. It was covered with paper on the outside. In the tea garden roji a portable tea garden lantern roji andon was composed of a bottom board, a stand and four sides covered with paper and a handle on the top. It was placed on the ground.


A cauldron, iron pot, or kettle. Also called kama or chagama.

A tea kettle is used exclusively for boiling water at a tea ceremony, and is considered the ceremony's most essential vessel. It differs from other vessels in that its mouth is small. Most are made of cast iron but copper ones are not unknown. The earliest kettle for tea is said to have been made in the early 14c for the priest, Myoue, at the temple Kouzanji, by a master kettle-maker in Ashiya, Fukuoka prefecture. From this time until the end of the Muromachi period (1392-1568) aside from Ashiya kettles ashiyagama kettles made in Sano, Tochigi prefecture, tenmyougama were most in demand. By the late 16c, there were many tea masters who ordered vessels according to their own preferences. Because the tea ceremony developed in the Kansai area, many artisans went to Kyoto to produce kettles at the Sanjou kilns. Kettles that passed from generation to generation have special names derived from the history of the owner, the kettles shape, pattern, mouth or finish. Kettles are usually round with rounded, squarish or sloping shoulders. An extensive array of patterns exist including: rough skin arehada sandy skin sunahada or tortoise shell patterns. Others may be finished with Chinese style mountains or rivers, one of the seven gods of fortune, plants, animals and even cloissone. Kettle mouths have diverse shapes. Some are turned inward, others outward, while others are wide or narrow or notched. Two loops are cast on the shoulder to attach rings when the kettle is to be hung or carried. Often kettles have the shape of an ogre face, but they may have the face of a biting lion, distant mountains, pine cones, or bamboo shoots. Kettle bottoms are rounded, flat and round, or flat and square. The tea ceremony kettle lids chanoyugama futa, are made of cast iron, and forged at the same time as the body to match the bottoms perfectly. However, lids can also be made of bronze, copper, brass, silver and even from an ancient bronze mirror. Lids have a variety of names depending on their shape. Moributa are high in the center while usumoributa are slightly raised but lower than moributa. Lids with straight flat tops, are called ichimonjibuta. Lids that are high around the rim but with the center indented are called sukuibuta. If the lid rim projects and the top is flat it is known as kakegobuta. When indented where the knob is placed, the lid is called emyoubuta. Lids also may have small dots embossed on the top, ishimebuta, or be decorated with a thin linear pattern itomebuta. The oldest kettles were usually cast to be used with the portable brazier furo, and those intended for use on the ordinary fixed hearth, ro, were set on a trivet or hung on a tripod.





A tea whisk used to whip powdered green tea, matcha, and hot water in a tea bowl until it froths. The whisk is made from one piece of bamboo about 2 to 2 1/2 cm thick and from 9cm to 12cm long. Near one end is a node. A little beyond the node on the longer end, string is interlaced, karami-ito to hold the longer ends which are split finely into a varying number of extremely thin strips. The string is intertwined to create two rows of strips. Those on the outer edge have their tips curved inwardly, and those pulled toward the center have their tips curved out. This creates a double tipped whisk. Whisks are classified by the number of tips: those having 80 to 120 or more are called multi-tipped; those with fewer are designated medium or sparse. White bamboo is preferred by the Ura Senke School; sooty bamboo by the Omote Senke School; green or purplish bamboo by the Kankyuu'an School.


1  A generic term for ceramic wares called toujiki from the 9c-16c. Initially used for tea drinking and considerably later for rice.

2  A ceramic bowl used for drinking tea at a tea ceremony. Japanese chawan are most frequently used but those imported from China and Korea are also favored. The tea bowls imported from China are called karamono referring to the T'ang dynasty (618-907). Korean bowls are called kourai chawan and Japanese tea bowls are called kuniyaki  meaning domestically fired. The type of chawan used depends on whether the ceremony is formal, shin , semi-formal, gyou, or informal, sou. One of the most formal chawan used since ancient times, is a tenmoku bowl tenmoku jawan. It has a unique shape: a wide top, and a special oil-spot glaze of Chinese lineage. Today, it is used only when accompanied by a large portable shelf, daisu, and a wooden saucer called tenmokudai. In Japan, however, chawan of plainer design and irregular shape are appreciated more than those with such perfect forms, especially at a simple, quiet tea ceremony. Thus, many domestic tea bowls came into use in the late 16c. Their type and design are extremely diverse, and made even more so by the preferences of tea masters. In general, a bowl shaped for easy drinking is most appreciated. The average size is 15cm in diameter at the rim and about 8cm high. In the summer, a shorter bowl is favored, while in winter, a barrel-shaped bowl about 10cm in diameter at the rim and 9cm high is often preferred.
Aside from the tenmoku type introduced in the Muromachi period (1392/3-1568), and one of Korean lineage which was a deep bowl called idojawan, the most popular bowl was a domestic type called rakuyaki. It appears to have been introduced by Sen Rikyu (1502-1591). Generally, tea bowls are appreciated for the shape of the rim, kuchi-zukuri, the inside of the bowl, mikomi, the body of the bowl, dou, and the foot, koudai. By the mid-18c, a middle grade of green tea called sencha gained in popularity and smaller sized tea bowls came into use.


Tea Caddie Tea Caddie

a) koshiki (nodo)   b)kata  c) douhimo  d)dou

Also usuchaki or natsume. A tea caddy or container for storing powdered weak green tea. The weak-tea container is frequently made of lacquered wood with matching lid, but bamboo and ceramic examples also exist. The oldest type was cylindrical with the top and bottom rounded. Many chaki resemble the shape of a ripe olive or a Chinese date and therefore called natsume. The usual size is 7cm high and 7cm in diameter. However, there are some chaki, called hiranatsume, which are larger in diameter but shallow. Many chaki are lacquered with gold and silver designs. Therefore, to protect the surface they are kept in special bags called shifuku. A container for keeping strong tea is called chaire.
A tea caddy, usually ceramic, used to hold strong tea at a tea ceremony. Its dimensions vary, ranging from 3-15cm high, with a diameter of about 4-8cm. First brought to Japan in the 13c, the most valued chaire were made in Southern Song and Yuan China and thus considered karamono in Japan. Usually a chaire is put in a bag shifuku, made of very fine material, such as high quality silk gold brocade, damask or striped silk called kantou, from China, and carried into the tea ceremony room. The gorgeous material of the bag was also appreciated at a tea ceremony. Chaire were made in Japanese kilns from the Momoyama period. The methods of making the bottom of the tea caddy were as follows:

1  itokiri: The clay bottom of the tea caddy is separated from the potter's wheel by using string that leaves a spiral mark. Japanese and Chinese tea caddies can be distinguished by these marks. Seto objects have a right ward string cut, considered the normal string cutsince a potter's wheel turns clockwise, but Chinese objects have a left-ward side string cut because their potter's wheels turn counter clockwise.

2  uzu-itokiri: If clay is removed from the potter's wheel with a nail or spatula, a spiral pattern will result from a gentle, extra turn of the wheel. This spiral is an important feature in the tea ceremony.

3  maru-itokiri: Related to itokiri. A string line, which is created on the bottom of the tea caddy when it is removed from the pottery wheel, this technique sometimes used for the most exquisite of tea caddies.

4  wa-itokiri: To carve many concentric circles with a thin needle on the bottom of formed clay. The word may also be used for the pattern itself.


a)tsuyu  b)kaisaki  c) hi
d)fushi  e) ottori   f)kiridome

Lit. tea scoop. A spoon-like utensil used to transfer powdered tea from a tea container chaki to the guest's tea bowl at a tea ceremony. Originally, a chashaku was made of ivory and used as a medicine spoon, but after the mid 17c the tea masters preferred to make it out of bamboo. Other materials were also used, including mulberry wood, tortoise shell and silver. When the techniques for manipulating bamboo improved, chashaku took on various shapes depending on the preferences of the tea masters. The average length is between 19-21 1/2 cm, with a width of about 1cm. Its tip is bent and rounded to make the scoop. This spoon-like utensil is carved along the vertial growth of the bamboo. The rest is thinned gradually and the bottom edge is cut straight. It is of practical use but is so perfectly created that is a miniature work of art. There are three types of tea scoops. The formal tea scoop is made principally from ivory or from a smooth jointless piece of the bamboo. The semi-formal tea scoop is made of mulberry or bamboo with the joint at the handle end. Informal tea scoops are made of bamboo with the joint in or near the middle. The informal tea scoop is the most common and was probably created by Sen Rikyuu (1522-91). The names of the various parts of a tea scoop include: the tip tsuyu, the paddle tip or bowl kaisaki, the groove hi, the bend tame, the joint fushi, upper part of joint fushiue,  lower part of joint, fushishita, the scraped out back of the joint arigoshi, the handle ottori, and the end of the scoop, kiridome. A tube-like case oritame,  used to store the tea scoop is made of bamboo. Often a name is inscribed on the case.


A small napkin used at a tea ceremony for wiping the tea bowl. Generally it is made from a linen cloth 30cm long x 12.5cm wide, with the top and bottom edges having a half centimeter sewn border, reducing it to 11.5cm wide. When in use, the chakin is folded lengthwise into thirds. Then, the long edge is folded in half and puffed up before it is folded again in half. Finally, its edges are folded a little to adjust the shape.


An aesthetic ideal that finds surpassing beauty and deep significance in what is humble or commonplace and appears natural or artless. This conception of beauty as simple and austere is found in poetry, and came to be the dominant philosophy in the practice of tea or chanoyu, often called wabicha or "wabi style tea." Deriving from the verb wabu "to languish" and the adjective wabishi "spiritual loneliness," wabi was used first in early poetry to decribe the "despair of a forlorn lover" and later came to denote the barren circumstances of the poet-recluse, it was not truly influential until it was absorbed into the ideal of sabi. The originally negative connotations changed with the development particularly under Zen Buddhist influences of a positive view of seclusion from the mundane in the locus of the hermit's hut. In much literature of the early medieval period we find this aesthetic of an artless beauty based on the appreciation of the imperfect and irregular aspects of nature.
Tea master Murata Jukou (1423-1502) was an early exponent of wabicha who adopted literary terms such as hie, chill, and kare, withered, to express the bleak, monochromatic appeal of the simple domestic wares he introduced into the practice tea. Students of Jukou also began holding tea gatherings in a thatched-hut souan, tea houses chashitsu, modeled on the hermit's grass hut. Takeno Jouou (1502-55) is said to have emphasized ethical and metaphysical aspects of wabi, calling it free of arrogance. Jouou also cited Fujiwara Teika's (1162-1241) waka "looking out there are neither blossoms nor crimson leaves, an old hut by the bay in evening" as conveying its essence. The integration of wabi into chanoyu was further developed by Sen Rikyuu  (1522-91) in his encouragement of the use of the smallest possible space of the two-mat thatched-hut tearoom, simple, rustic tea wares such as ‚’akuyaki, and the unadorned and simple forms of bamboo flower containers and other utensils. Rikyuu and his heirs sought in the tea hut the locus for a Zen-like experience of freedom from the mind. This aesthetic which finds richness in poverty, beauty in simplicity, and enlightment in artistic discipline has been termed wabisuki, a fusion of wabi with the word suki  or aesthetic liking. Wabisuki reached its ultimate stage in the gokuwabi "wabi in the extreme," as practiced by tea-master such as Rikyuu's grandson Sen Soutan (1578-1658).
The influence of the wabi aesthetic is clearly seen in chashitsu architecture, ceramics, and other arts directly connected with chanoyu. Wabi taste also played a role in the connoisseurship and collecting of older paintings and works of calligraphy. Moreover, wabi, as dominant aesthetic of late 15c and 16c, exerted an influence on contemporary painting, particularly the rough and "natural" style of soutai or "grass style" (shin gyou sou) ink painting, suibokuga.


1 An idea of beauty particularly important in the tea ceremony and haiku poetry. The beauty of materials or spaces which have been worn down over time to become withered and aged. Seen particularly in teahouses, tea utensils and tea gardens. Initially a medieval aesthetic ideal, sabi included aspects of resignation, age, decay, loneliness, detachment, and tranquility. The noun sabi derives from the verb sabu "to wane" and the adjective sabishii "lonely", and also sounds the same as the noun sabi meaning "rust" or an "aged quality." Fujiwara Shunzei (1114-1204) used sabi as a critical quality to judge in poetry, where it refered to a mood of desolation. Sabi can also be seen in the feeling of beautiful loneliness described by hermit poets such as Saigyou (1118-1190). For 15c writers such as Zeami (1363-1445) and Shinkei (1406-75), sabi became a kind of cold beauty associated with the positive qualities of kare "withered" and hie "chill." Its presence can be detected in a range of arts during the 14 and 15c. In the late 17c, a modified interpretation of sabi was particularly important to haiku ”o‹å poets it was naturally an important aspect of haiga or haiku painting, and indirectly influenced other styles of painting related to haiku. This tendency was represented by Matsuo Bashou (1644-94) and others of his generation.

The colour acquired by rocks in a garden which have been weathered and corroded over time. In the Edo period, this coloring was sometimes artificially applied to rocks.


Lit. Aesthetic liking. Most simply love for elegant things, particularly poetry (waka and the objects of the practice of tea (chanoyu), but, at a deeper level, a paradoxical ideal that seeks ultimately to transcend taste and aesthetics. In the Heian period suki generally referred to amorous adventure with the implication that this was an elegant accomplishment to be carried out in a refined manner. In the Kamakura period suki suggested a devotion to art, particularly poetry, and the pursuit of it with a deep sensitivity often acheived by severing ties with secular society and living as a hermit. In waka treatises such as FUKUROSOUSHI (ca 1156), suki is often used to describe the extreme or eccentric behavior of waka poets devoted to their art. In the HOSSHINSHUU of 1216, Kamo no Choumei (1155-1216) describes suki as solitude, poverty, purity produced by closeness to nature, and freedom from worldly defilement as a means of realizing the impermanence of existence and thus achieving enlightenment. Devotion to artistic accomplishment became concomitant with a desire for buddhahood. Thus adoption to suki aesthetics led to detachment from mundane life and to an emphasis on the retreat/hermitage as the locus of artistic creation. This taste for "aesthetic reclusion" (suki-no-tonsei ) greatly influenced the development of chanoyu. By the early 15c the term suki was applied to men of tea chasuki (lit. tea enthusiast), as well as poets. Suki was also applied to specific styles or tastes within chanoyu. For example, the taste for Chinese objects (karamono) was termed karamono suki, while the taste for native things was wamono suki. Suki was used to describe the small, thatched-hut (souan type of tearoom. By the early 16c., the term suki alone was synonomous with chanoyu. Moreover, the ideal of suki formed the conceptual basis of the style of tea practice devoted to orderliness, simplicity, and aesthetic appreciation exemplified in the term wabi‚ used by the great tea-masters Murata Jukou (d.1502), Takeno Jouou (1502-55), and Sen no Rikyuu (1522-91). Suki also may include a sense of Buddhist compassion. The devotion to wabi style tea in the late 16c created the term wabisuki. Tea masters were cha-no-sukisha or simply sukisha . Tea wares were called sukimono. Tea architecture became sukiya. The word suki when used since the Edo period (around the 17c) in relation to chanoyu is usually written with the characters. (literally "fortune" and "oddness"). Two influential Edo period chanoyu treatises, NANBOUROKU (1690) and ZENCHAROKU (1826) , maintain that the older useage of suki (also read konomi) meaning "to love" or "to covet" remained in the practices of treasuring favorite tea utensils. Suki has come to mean refinement tinged with eccentricity, the sukisha as someone who does not bend to wordly concerns, sukimono as assymetrical and (while appearing spontaneous) carefully contrived objects. This aspect of suki encouraged the appreciation and patronage of ceramics such as Bizen, Oribe or Iga wares. The suki aesthetic seeks to acheive the imperfect, natural beauty of wabi through controlled imperfection called "naturalness." Thus ceramic glaze effects that appear spontaneous or simple rustic architectural finishes and decoration result from a rigorous and by the late 17c., carefully codified selection and refinement of techniques.



Poems in Kojiki and Nihonshoki
The oldest written work in Japanese literature is Kojiki in 712, in which Ō no Yasumaro recorded Japanese mythology and history as recited by Hieda no Are, to whom it was handed down by his ancestors. Many of the poetic pieces recorded by the Kojiki were perhaps transmitted from the time the Japanese had no writing. The Nihonshoki, the oldest history of Japan which was finished eight years later than the Kojiki, also contains many poetic pieces. These were mostly not long and had no fixed forms. The first poem documented in both books was attributed to a kami (god), named Susanoo, the younger brother of Amaterasu. When he married Princess Kushinada in Izumo province, the kami made an uta, or waka, a poem.

Yakumo tatsu / Izumo yaegaki / Tsuma-gomi ni / Yaegaki tsukuru / Sono yaegaki wo

This is the oldest waka (poem written in Japanese) and hence poetry was later praised as having been founded by a kami, a divine creation.
The two books shared many of the same or similar pieces but Nihonshoki contained newer ones because it recorded later affairs (up till the reign of Emperor Temmu) than Kojiki. Themes of waka in the books were diverse, covering love, sorrow, satire, war cries, praise of victory, riddles and so on. Many works in Kojiki were anonymous. Some were attributed to kami, emperors and empresses, nobles, generals, commoners and sometimes enemies of the court. Most of these works are considered collectively as 'works of the people', even where attributed to someone, such as the kami Susanoo.

Early Man'yōshū poets
The oldest poetic anthology of waka is the 20 volume Man'yōshū. Probably finished in the early part of the Heian period, it gathered ancient works. The order of its sections is roughly chronological. Most of the works in the Man'yōshū have a fixed form today called choka and tanka. But earlier works, especially in Volume I, lacked such fixed form and were attributed to Emperor Yūryaku.
The Man'yōshū begins with a waka without fixed form. It is both a love song for an unknown girl whom the poet met by chance and a ritual song praising the beauty of the land. It is worthy of being attributed to an emperor and today is used in court ritual. The first three sections contain mostly the works of poets from the middle of the 7th century to the early part of the 8th century. Significant poets among them were Nukata no Ōkimi and Kakinomoto Hitomaro. Kakinomoto Hitomaro was not only the greatest poet in those early days and one of the most significant in the Man'yōshū, he rightly has a place as one of the most outstanding poets in Japanese literature.

Chinese influence
Chinese literature was introduced into Japan ca the 6th century C.E, mostly through the Korean peninsula. Just as the Chinese writing itself, Chinese literature, historical writings, religious scriptures and poetry laid the foundation for Japanese literature proper. Such influence is somewhat comparable to the influence of Latin on the European languages and literature. In the court of Emperor Temmu some nobles made attempts to recite Chinese poetry. Chinese literacy was a sign of education and most high courtiers wrote poetry in Chinese. Later these works were collected in the Kaifūsō, one of the earliest anthologies of poetry in Japan, edited in the early Heian period. Thanks to this book the death poem of Prince Ōtsu is still extant today.[1] The strong influence of Chinese poetics may be seen in Kakyō Hyōshiki. In the 772 text, Fujiwara no Hamanari attempts to apply phonetic rules for Chinese poetry to Japanese poetry.

Nara period poets
In 710 the Japanese capital moved from Fujiwara (today's Asuka, Nara) to Nara and the Nara period (710-794) began. It was the period when Chinese influence reached its culmination. Todai-ji was established and the Great Buddha was created under the order of Emperor Shōmu. The significant waka poets in this period were Ōtomo no Tabito, Yamanoue no Okura, and Yamabe no Akahito. The Man'yōshū included also many female poets who mainly wrote love poems. The poets of the Man'yōshū were aristocrats who were born in Nara but sometimes lived or traveled in other provinces as bureaucrats of the emperor. These poets wrote down their impressions of travel and expressed their emotion for lovers or children. Sometimes their poems criticized the political failure of the government or tyranny of local officials. Yamanoue no Okura wrote a choka, A Dialogue of two Poormen (貧窮問答歌, Hinkyū mondōka); in this poem two poor men lamented their severe lives of poverty. One hanka is as follows:

Yononaka wo / Ushi to yasashi to / Omo(h)e domo / Tobitachi kanetsu / Tori ni shi arane ba
I feel the life is / sorrowful and unbearable / though / I can't flee away / since I am not a bird.

The Man'yōshū contains not only poems of aristocrats but also those of nameless ordinary people. These poems are called Yomibito shirazu, poems whose author is unknown. Among them there is a specific style of waka called Azuma-uta, waka written in the Eastern dialect. Azuma, meaning the East, designated the eastern provinces roughly corresponding to Kantō and occasionally Tōhoku. Those poems were filled with rural flavors. There was a specific style among Azuma-uta, called Sakimori uta, soldiers' waka. They were mainly waka by drafted soldiers at leaving home. These soldiers were drafted in the eastern provinces and were forced to work as guards in Kyūshū for several years. Sometimes their poetry expressed nostalgia for their far homeland.

Waka in the early Heian period
It is thought the Man'yōshū reached its final form, the one we know today, very early in the Heian period. There are strong grounds for believing that Ōtomo no Yakamochi was the final editor but some documents claim further editing was done in the later period by other poets including Sugawara no Michizane. Though there was a strong inclination towards Chinese poetry, some eminent waka poets were active in the early Heian period, including the six best waka poets.

The culmination of kanshi
In the early Heian period kanshi--poetry written in Chinese by Japanese--was most the popular style of poetry among Japanese aristocrats. Some poets like Kūkai studied in China and were fluent in Chinese. Others like Sugawara no Michizane had grown up in Japan but understood Chinese well. When they hosted foreign diplomats, they communicated not orally but in writing, using kanji or Chinese characters. In that period, Chinese poetry in China had reached one of its greatest flowerings. Major Chinese poets of the Tang dynasty like Li Po were their contemporaries and their works were well known to the Japanese. Some who went to China for study or diplomacy made the acquaintance of these major poets. The most popular styles of kanshi were in 5 or 7 syllables (onji) in 4 or 8 lines, with very strict rules of rhyme. Japanese poets became skilled in those rules and produced much good poetry. Some long poems with lines of 5 or 7 syllables were also produced. These, when chanted, were referred to as shigin - a practice which continues today.
Emperor Saga himself was proficient at kanshi. He ordered the compilation of three anthologies of kanshi. These were the first of the imperial anthologies, a tradition which continued till the Muromachi period.

Kokin Wakashū
In the middle of the Heian period Waka revived with the compilation of the Kokin Wakashū. It was edited on the order of Emperor Daigo. About 1,000 waka, mainly from the late Nara period till the contemporary times, were anthologized by five waka poets in the court including Ki no Tsurayuki who wrote the kana preface (仮名序 kanajo?) The Kana preface to Kokin Wakashū was the second earliest expression of literary theory and criticism in Japan (the earliest was by Kūkai). Kūkai's literary theory was not influential, but Kokin Wakashū set the types of waka and hence other genres which would develop from waka.
The collection is divided into twenty parts, reflecting older models such as the Man'yōshū and various Chinese anthologies. The organisation of topics is however different from all earlier models, and was followed by all later official collections, although some collections like the Kin'yō Wakashū and Shika Wakashū reduced the number of parts to ten. The parts of the Kokin Wakashū are ordered as follows: Parts 1-6 covered the four seasons, followed by congratulatory poems, poetry at partings, and travel poems. The last ten sections included poetry on the 'names of things', love, laments, occasional poems, miscellaneous verse, and finally traditional and ceremonial poems from the Bureau of Poetry.
The compilers included the name of the author of each poem, and the topic (題 dai) or inspiration of the poem, if known. Major poets of the Kokin Wakashū include Ariwara Narihira, Ono no Komachi, Henjō and Fujiwara no Okikaze, apart from the compilers themselves. Inclusion in any imperial collection, and particularly the Kokin Wakashū, was a great honour.

Influence of Kokin Wakashū
The Kokin Wakashū is the first of the Nijūichidaishū, the 21 collections of Japanese poetry compiled at Imperial request. It was the most influential realization of the ideas of poetry at the time, dictating the form and format of Japanese poetry until the late nineteenth century. The primacy of poems about the seasons pioneered by the Kokin Wakashū continues even today in the haiku tradition. The Japanese preface by Ki no Tsurayuki is also the beginning of Japanese criticism as distinct from the far more prevalent Chinese poetics in the literary circles of its day. (The anthology also included a traditional Chinese preface authored by Ki no Tomonori.) The idea of including old as well as new poems was another important innovation, one which was widely adopted in later works, both in prose and verse. The poems of the Kokin Wakashū were ordered temporally; the love poems, for instance, depict the progression and fluctuations of a courtly love-affair. This association of one poem to the next marks this anthology as the ancestor of the renga and haikai traditions.

Waka in the life of Kuge
In ancient times, it was a custom to exchange waka instead of letters in prose. Sometimes improvised waka were used in daily conversation in high society. In particular, the exchange of waka was common between lovers. Reflecting this custom, five of the twenty volumes of the Kokin Wakashū (or Kokinshū) gathered waka for love. In the Heian period the lovers would exchange waka in the morning when lovers parted at the woman's home. The exchanged waka were called Kinuginu (後朝), because it was thought the man wanted to stay with his lover and when the sun rose he had almost no time to don his clothes which had been laid out in place of a mattress (as was the custom in those days). Soon, writing and reciting Waka became a part of aristocratic culture. People recited a piece of appropriate waka freely to imply something on an occasion. In the Pillow Book it is written that a consort of Emperor Murakami memorized over 1,000 waka in Kokin Wakashū with their description.
Uta-ai, ceremonial waka recitation contests, developed in the middle of the Heian period. The custom began in the reign of Emperor Uda, the father of Emperor Daigo who ordered the compilation of the Kokin Wakashū. It was 'team combat' on proposed themes grouped in similar manner to the grouping of poems in the Kokin Wakashū. Representatives of each team recited a waka according to their theme and the winner of the round won a point. The team with the higher overall score won the contest. Both winning poet and team received a certain prize. Holding Utaai was expensive and possible only for Emperors or very high ranked kuge. The size of Uta-ai increased. Uta-ai were recorded with hundreds of rounds. Uta-ai motivated the refinement of waka technique but also made waka formalistic and artificial. Poets were expected to create a spring waka in winter or recite a poem of love or lamentation without real situations.

Roei style
Roei was a favored style of reciting poetical works at that time. It was a way of reciting in voice, with relatively slow and long tones. Not whole poetic pieces but a part of classics were quoted and recited by individuals usually followed by a chorus. Fujiwara no Kinto compiled Wakan roeishu (Sino-Japanese Anthology for Roei) from Japanese and Chinese poetry works written for roei. One or two lines were quoted in Wakan roeishu and those quotations were grouped into themes like Spring, Travel, Celebration.

Age of Nyobo or court ladies
Emperor Ichijō and courts of his empresses, concubines and other noble ladies were a big pool of poets as well as men of the courts.
The Pillow Book and Tale of Genji, from the early 11th century, provide us with examples of the life of aristocrats in the court of Emperor Ichijō and his empresses. Murasaki Shikibu wrote over 3,000 tanka for her Tale of Genji in the form of waka her characters wrote in the story. In the story most of those waka were created as an exchange of letters or a conversation. Many classic works of both waka and kanshi were quoted by the nobles. Among those classic poets, the Chinese Tang-dynasty poet Bai Juyi (Po Chü-i) had a great influence on the culture of the middle Heian period. Bai Juyi was quoted by both The Pillow Book and Tale of Genji, and his A Song of Unending Sorrow (長恨歌), whose theme was a tragic love between the Chinese Emperor and his concubine, inspired Murasaki Shikibu to imagine tragic love affairs in the Japanese imperial court in her Tale of Genji.

Poetry in the period of cloistered rule
In the period of cloistered rule, the 12th century, some new movements of poetry appeared. First a new form called Imayō (modern style) emerged. Imayō consists of four lines in 8-5 (or 7-5) syllables. Usually it was accompanied by music and dance. Female dancers, known as the shirabyōshi danced to the accompaniment of Imayō. Major works were compiled into the Ryōjin Hishō anthology. Although originally women and commoners are thought to be proponents of the genre, Emperor Go-Shirakawa was famed for his mastery of imayo.
Some new trends appeared in waka. There were two opposite trends: an inclination to the contemporary, modern style and on the other hand a revival of the traditional style. Both trends had their schools and won the honor to compile imperial anthologies of waka. Fujiwara no Shunzei and his son Fujiwara no Teika were the leaders of the latter school. Also in this period for the first time renga were included in the imperial anthologies of waka. At that time, renga was considered a variant of waka. The renga included were waka created by two persons only, quite unlike the later style which featured many stanzas.

Shin Kokin Wakashū
In the late period rule by cloistered Emperors, or the early Kamakura period, Emperor Go-Toba, who had abdicated, ordered the compilation of the eighth imperial anthology of waka, the Shin Kokin Wakashū. Go-Toba himself joined the team of editors. Other editors included Fujiwara no Teika and Kamo no Chōmei.

Later Imperial anthologies of Waka
After the Shin Kokin Wakashū, fourteen waka anthologies were compiled under imperial edict: the 13 Jūsandaishū and the Shin'yō Wakashū. These anthologies reflected the taste of aristocrats (and later, warriors) and were considered the ideal of waka in each period. Moreover, anthologizing served as a proof of cultural legitimacy of the patrons and often had political connotations.

In the Pre-modern or Edo period (1602-1869) some new styles of poetry developed. One of greatest and most influential styles was renku, (also known as haikai no renga, or haikai), emerging from renga in the medieval period. Matsuo Bashō was a great haikai master and had a wide influence on his contemporaries and later generations. Bashō was also a prominent writer of haibun, a combination of prose and haiku.
The tradition of collaboration between painters and poets had a beneficial influence on poetry in the middle Edo period. In Kyoto there were some artists who were simultaneously poets and painters. Painters of the Shujo school were known as good poets. Among such poet-painters the most significant was Yosa Buson. Buson began his career as a painter but went on to become a master of renku, too. He left many paintings accompanied by his own haiku poems. Such combination of haiku with painting is known as haiga. Waka underwent a revival, too, in relation to kokugaku, the study of Japanese classics. Kyōka (mad song), a type of satirical waka was also popular.
In the late Edo period, a master of haikai, Karai Senryū made an anthology. His style became known as senryū, after his pseudonym. Senryū is a style of satirical poetry whose motifs are taken from daily life in 5-7-5 syllables. Anthologies of senryū in the Edo period collect many 'maeku' or senryū made by ordinary amateur senryū poets adding in front of the latter 7-7 part written by a master. It was a sort of poetry contest and the well written senryū by amateurs were awarded by the master and other participants.


The Meiji Restoration and Kendo

It is common knowledge that the modern art of kendo, now practised by millions of people in Japan and around the world, evolved from tried and tested battlefield techniques. With the advancement of tenka taihei, or “peace throughout the realm” during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), the martial arts took on a new meaning and role for the ruling samurai class. With no more wars per se, the military arts were studied as methods for self-development, with increasing emphasis placed on aesthetic and spiritual value rather than just as a means to maim and kill. The Tokugawa period saw the martial arts decline temporarily then flourish with unprecedented popularity. During the ensuing 250 years of peace, martial schools (bugei-ryūha) increased in number exponentially with some estimates at over 700 schools. 
Japan’s respect for the traditional martial arts was brought to an abrupt end with the arrival of Commodore Perry’s “Black Ships” in Japanese waters in 1853. After centuries of self-imposed isolation (sakoku), Japan found itself outdated, outgunned, and out of its depth with the Western nations. Although the seclusion from the rest of the world had given the Japanese martial arts time to develop into fascinating martial antiques, rich in ritualistic symbolism and spiritualism, they were no match for the devastating firepower of Western nations snooping around its shores demanding special rights and privileges. Commodore Perry’s arrival woke the Japanese out of their false sense of security, and with the Meiji Restoration, they set about rebuilding the nation by drawing on the latest technology and ideas the West had to offer. 
This essentially meant that traditional Japanese martial arts such as kenjutsu fell into obscurity due to a lack of perceived practical application. Guns, cannons, and a new conscript army were the order of the day if Japan was to catch up with the rest of the world. The era abounded with catch phrases such as “wakon-yōsai” (Japanese spirit-Western technology) as they strove to educate the masses, arm the nation, and match the West in terms of a new modern civil society. 
Kenjutsu, along with the other martial arts, was considered symbolic of the now outdated feudal hierarchy which placed the minority bushi above all other echelons of society, and was thus relegated to the realms of old-fashioned nonsense with no practical use to the newly emerging modern society. With the abolishment of the Bakufu’s military academy the Kōbusho in 1866, and the dissolution of han (feudal domains) and the bushi controlled hankō (domain schools) in 1871, martial arts were no longer included as part of the educational curriculum, which was redesigned on western models to educate the masses rather than the privileged few. 
Bushi rapidly lost all of their special privileges, and the final nail in the coffin was the edict denying them the right to wear the item considered the embodiment of their very soul, the katana. Many of those from bushi stock were cast into a world of unemployment and poverty. Apart from a number of high-ranking bushi who were endowed with positions of authority in the organs of Japan’s new government, many others found themselves without status, employment, or income, and a significant number were reduced to utter destitution. In the midst of this social upheaval, those hit particularly hard were the bujutsu instructors in the employ of the Bakufu or domains, or who managed their own private dōjō in the cities. With no stipends any more, and no students in their dōjō, many subsisted from one day to the next not knowing where their next meal would come from. 

Sakakibara Kenkichi and Gekiken Kōgyō

Sakakibara Kenkichi
One such bushi was a man called Sakakibara Kenkichi. He lamented the decline in traditional swordsmanship and other martial arts. Being a man of action rather than words, he set about rekindling popular interest in the martial arts. The results of his initiative were a series of public demonstration matches performed by renowned martial artists known as “gekiken kōgyō” (gekiken or gekken=kendo, kōgyō=performance.) The first of these curious martial circuses was held in Asakusa for 10 days commencing April 11th 1873, and any member of the public regardless of age or sex was welcome to witness the spectacle as long as they paid the entrance fee. Spectators were also encouraged to participate in matches if they thought they were up to the challenge. 
Gekiken Kogyo scene
Sakakibara’s innovation was received extremely well. During the Edo period, bujutsu was primarily the cultural monopoly of the bushi, but now everybody was given the opportunity to see the country’s top swordsmen in action. Despite the pricey admission fee, the arena was packed to capacity. The success of Sakakibara’s first meet inspired similar demonstrations throughout the country giving rise to a gekiken kōgyō boom conducted by newly set-up troupes of travelling martial artists. 
Gekiken Kogyo group scene
Providing a number of destitute bujutsu experts with a means of income, the events were a popular success. However, even more significant to modern practitioners of kendo was the role gekiken kōgyō played in ensuring the survival of the traditional martial arts. A few years after the commencement of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the martial arts were all but forgotten. However, gekiken kōgyō brought them back into view. It is no exaggeration to say that if it were not for the gekiken kōgyō and the efforts made by Sakakibara Kenkichi in getting them started, ‘traditional’ bujutsu may not have survived the period. His timing was at the eleventh hour for kenjutsu and the other arts, but it was enough to see them through to their next stage of development, as opposed to extinction. 
Gekiken Kogyo scene
Nevertheless, there was also a much discussed downside to the effects of the gekiken kōgyō. To many critics, it was lamentable to see the once proud bushi selling their souls and prostituting their martial skills for a quick buck. Also, in the name of entertainment many of the shows were laced with sensational but hardly practical techniques and sound effects, just as one would expect to see at a pro-wrestling event today. This was seen as detracting from the true spirit of the martial arts, and to the disgust of many traditional hardliners also contributed to the subsequent sportified bastardization of the arts. Nonetheless, the historical importance of the gekiken kōgyō cannot be denied, and in many ways it is thanks to this chapter in history that we still have kendo today. 

Keishichō Kendo

Many of the highest ranking kendo exponents in Japan today have some connection with the police. The relationship between the police force and kendo goes right back to the initial stages of the police system’s development. When Sakakibara organised the first demonstrations, word soon spread and troupes formed after receiving official permission in various regions to operate demonstrations. After seeing initial success, the authorities then banned the demonstrations in fear of subversive bujutsu experts congregating and conspiring. However, their legality was reinstated after a few years, and the demonstrations quickly regained popularity. 
The main difference was that this time they were not just for the enjoyment of spectators, but served as an important venue for cross-training amongst the exponents. Furthermore, they became a recruitment ground for the newly formed police force. What Japan needed during these volatile times after the Satsuma Rebellion (1) was brought to an end were effective police constables, and the government was looking at ways to greatly strengthen their police force. 
Then Police Commissioner Kawaji Toshiyoshi had developed great respect for the Battōtai division, who armed only with swords, performed magnificently in the battle at Taharazaka (1877). He subsequently rediscovered the true value and potential of traditional bujutsu, in particular kenjutsu. Before making a trip to inspect police forces overseas in 1879, he published his thoughts in an essay titled “Kenjutsu Saikō-ron” (Reviving Kenjutsu) on the value of the traditional martial arts, and the importance of always being well-trained and prepared just as the swordsmen of old had always been. He asserted that any constables of the force must be in good shape for self-defence and also to apprehend evildoers. This essentially provided impetus to employ renowned kenjutsu exponents in the police force to serve as instructors and train the recruits. 
On January 19th 1880, Police Academy guidelines were established and it was stipulated that all cadets were to be instructed in kenjutsu. Because of such developments, the gekiken demonstrations once again in full swing around the country after the temporary ban became the target of scouts who went in search of likely candidates to teach kenjutsu to the police. The swordsmen ranking at the top of the programs were well aware of the opportunities that awaited them if they performed well, and one by one the cr�me de la cr�me found themselves with cushy careers working as kenjutsu instructors mainly for the Keishichō (The Tokyo Metropolitan Police.) 
Bujutsu instructors
This was a great turn in fortune for some swordsmen, but it essentially spelled the end of gekiken kōgyō. As the stars of the show found gainful employment in the police force, the talent in the troupes became depleted, and so too did the interest of the general public. Apart from a few troupes such as that led by Satake Kanryūsai who travelled the provinces, all the others died a natural death, thus signifying the end of an era. 
Once kenjutsu was adopted into the police force, it continued to develop and became an integral part of the lifestyles of the constables. Apart from holding competitions, the Keishichō were actively involved in the refinement of kenjutsu by creating kata (set forms), and also a basic system of ranking. As far as the Keishichō kata is concerned, it is difficult to establish exactly when they were created, but records of a demonstration of various kata by the Keishichō administrators at the 1886 Keishichō Bujutsu Taikai (martial arts tournament) suggest that they were finalised around this time and named Keishichō-ryū, a tradition that is still practised by some members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police today. 
The Keishichō also instigated their own grading system in 1885. Gradings were held to assess the technical level of the officer to whom they awarded an appropriate “kyū” grade. The Dai Nihon Butokukai (see below) later also created a grading system based on “dan” for kendo and judo in March of 1917, but the Keishichō still continued with its own system. When Keishichō kendo was reinstated on May 11th 1953 after the SCAP-imposed ban of several years following Japan’s WWII defeat, the system was abolished for the newly formed All Japan Kendo Federation’s system of shōgō and grades. At that instant, all Keishichō grades were abolished after over 70 years of use. 

Kendo in Education

The road to make kendo accepted into the school curriculum was long and complicated. In the 1870s there were a number of government officials who voiced their inhibitions about totally westernising the education system, and at least wanted to retain certain aspects of “Japaneseness” in the curriculum. This was especially the case with the physical education curriculum which was centred heavily on Western gymnastics. Some raised the question of why it was not possible to develop a PE curriculum based on the traditional Japanese bujutsu arts. Then again, there were many who were cautious about utilising the martial arts for such purposes. 
To investigate the potential benefits and dangers of bujutsu in schools, the Ministry of Education instigated a number of official investigations. Of particular note was the 1883 survey done by the National Institute of Gymnastics (Taisō Denshūjo), and then the 1896 investigation carried out by the School Health Advisors Board (Gakkō Eisei Komonkai). 
The 1883 investigation bore the following conclusions; 
1. An effective means of enhancing physical development. 
2. Develops stamina. 
3. Rouses the spirit and boosts morale. 
4. Expurgates spinelessness and replaces it with vigour. 
5. Arms the exponent with techniques for self-defence in times of danger. 
The dangers were as follows: 
1. May cause unbalanced physical development. 
2. Always an imminent danger present in training. 
3. Difficult to determine the appropriate degree of exercise, especially as physically strong students must train together with weaker individuals. 
4. Could encourage violent behaviour due to the rousing of the spirit. 
5. Exhilarates the will to fight which could manifest into an attitude of winning at all costs. 
6. There was a danger of encouraging a warped sense of competitiveness to the extent that the child could even resort to dishonest tactics. 
7. Difficult to sustain unified instructional methodology for large numbers of students. 
8. Requires a large area to conduct training. 
9. Even though jujutsu only requires a keiko-gi (training wear) kenjutsu requires the use of armour and other special equipment which would be expensive and difficult to keep clean and hygienic. 
Thus, the conclusion that was finally reached was that it would be inappropriate to introduce bujutsu into the school curriculum. On the one hand, it was recognised that as bujutsu could be customarily participated in, it could be beneficial in complementing the knowledge-oriented school system with its emphasis on spiritual development. On the other, it was deemed to run counter to the medical or physiological benefits expected from physical education activities. It was thought to be detrimental to balanced physical development, encouraged violence, antagonistic competition, dangerous, difficult to find the common medium between styles to coach, expensive, and unclean. 
The investigation of the latter group resulted in similar findings, but they did suggest that bujutsu could be taught in schools as an extra-curricular activity for boys over the age of 16 who are in good health. 
Another major problem was the fact that there was no established method for teaching students in a group. Traditionally, martial arts had always been taught one to one and knowledge passed on from teacher to students on an individual basis. In the modern educational environment this was impossible. Thus, there had to be a revolutionary new way to address this particular issue. The first concerted effort to do so resulted in the creation of “bujutsu taisō” or callisthenics. 
In 1894 and 1895, during and after the Sino-Japanese war, a number of educators attempted to solve these problems by developing a form of gymnastics utilising martial techniques. The idea soon took on, and before long many schools throughout Japan allowed students to participate in newly developed callisthenic exercises using bokutō or naginata. 
One of the main instigators of the system was Ozawa Unosuke. He stated that the purpose of developing bujutsu callisthenics was not only as a tool for education, but also to be utilised by members of the public to “nurture a nation of people with physiques by no means inferior to the people of Western nations.” He also outlined the many problems faced by the current system of gymnastics such as the difficulty in procuring equipment and suitable facilities could be overcome by introducing bujutsu into the system. As a curricular activity, the bujutsu-derived exercises would be an effective means of nurturing physical adeptness, and as an extra-curricular activity it would be a great form of recreational exercise or games that encourage discipline and overall physical wellbeing. 
Apart from Ozawa, there were others also experimenting with developing an indigenous system of gymnastic exercises based on bujutsu. Of particular note was Nakajima Kenzō who had studied the Jikishinkage-ryū naginata tradition in his childhood. It is unknown whether or not Ozawa and Nakajima ever collaborated, however, the efforts of both men saw their initiatives spread throughout the nation with seminars being held in various localities and greeted with considerable enthusiasm. All the same, there were also staunch critics who vehemently opposed the systems. Reasons for opposition were varied, but the most common criticism were that the techniques utilised were unrealistic and ineffective, paying little attention to hasuji (flight or cutting direction of the blade), and too much twisting and turning or ostentatious movement. Many couldn’t see the difference between that and another form of popular exercise resembling baton twirling. 
After decades of confusion over what should be taught in the school physical education curriculum, the Ministry of Education eventually issued the Syllabus of School Gymnastics (Gakkō taisō kyōju yōmoku) in 1913. This syllabus prescribed the Lingian approach to gymnastics as was the trend in Great Britain, America, and Scandinavia. This was supplemented with military drill and games (yūgi), and each school was supposed to devise its own curriculum following the guidelines set out by the MOE. These new guidelines essentially spelled the end of the bujutsu callisthenics initiatives. 
Despite the criticism, bujutsu-taisō did prove that bujutsu could be practised or taught in groups quite easily without the need to pair up and without expensive equipment, contrary to previous thought. From this standpoint, it is fair to assert that it had a profound effect on the way instruction methodology for beginners in the budō arts subsequently developed. In this sense, apart from educators such as Ozawa and Nakajima, there were a small number of actual bujutsu exponents who either endorsed them, or tried their hand at developing gymnastic-like systems based around their ryūha techniques and kata as a way to teach beginners. Books of this genre started appearing in the 1890s. Thereafter there was a plethora of books published that were essentially collaborations between educators and martial artists as they learned from each other ways to best adapt bujutsu techniques to suit the goals of the physical education curriculum in schools. It wasn’t until 1904-1905 that we see books appearing which were written as bujutsu textbooks (as opposed to taisō) for teaching beginners, but obviously heavily influenced by the taisō style and methodology. 
The martial artists avoided referring to what they were doing as bujutsu-taisō but instead preferred to describe their initiatives as “group teaching methodology”. In fact, after 1911 when bujutsu was finally accepted into the official school curriculum, albeit as an elective activity, many turned face and rained harsh criticism on the early bujutsu-taisō initiatives as being nothing more than performance exercises with sticks. This was, they asserted haughtily, in no way related to true bujutsu. This criticism is not exactly fair. What is also interesting to note is the influence western gymnastics exerted on the development of bujutsu-taisō and then eventually the sought-after unified teaching methodology in budō. This point is particularly fascinating when one takes into consideration the modern rhetoric claiming modern budō to be traditional Japanese culture. One wonders what exactly “traditional” means in this context. 

Dai Nihon Butokukai (Great Japan Martial Virtue Society)

Apart from the abovementioned innovations, undoubtedly the formation of the Dai Nihon Butokukai in 1895 was the major turning point in the attempt to popularise the martial arts in schools, and ensured their survival into the next century and beyond. By this stage, Japan was forging ahead in its quest to modernise, and was starting to embark on expansionist activities with a nationalistic fervour to match any other colonialist power of the day. The Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895) encouraged a surge of nationalism in Japan which in turn led to an increased interest in budō, as we have seen. 
The year 1895 marked the 1100th year of Kyoto becoming the capital of Japan. At that time Emperor Kanmu is said to have constructed the Butokuden (Hall of Martial Virtue) to promote martial spirit and encourage the warriors to further develop their military prowess. Thus, in commemoration of this, and riding a growing wave of nationalism, the Butokukai was established in Kyoto under the authority of the Ministry of Education and with the endorsement of the Meiji Emperor. Its goals were to promote and standardize the plethora of martial disciplines and systems found throughout the nation. In 1899, the Butokuden was rebuilt near the grounds of the newly constructed Heian Shrine in Kyoto. 
In 1902, an awards system was created to acknowledge individuals who had worked hard for the promotion of budō. In 1905, a division was established to train bujutsu instructors. The system was improved and revised a number of times and in 1911 the Butoku Gakkō (School of Martial Virtue) was formed. This became known as the Bujutsu Senmon Gakkō (Bujutsu Specialist School) in 1912, and then the Budō Senmon Gakkō in 1919 when the term “bujustu” was officially replaced with “budō” to emphasise the martial “way” or spiritual aspects of the martial arts.(2) Thus, the Butokukai was instrumental in the promotion of budō through rewarding prominent individuals, training teachers, holding special events and tournaments. The Budō Senmon Gakkō (or Busen as it became known) together with the Tōkyō Kōtō Shihan Gakkō (Tokyo Higher Normal School) led the way in producing young instructors who would be posted to schools throughout the country to teach children the arts. 

Creation of a Unified Set of Kata

Still, there were many problems that had to be overcome before successful national popularisation was realised. In an attempt to unify the many kenjutsu traditions and their techniques into something that transcended affiliation to a specific group or classical tradition, the Butokukai decided to develop a universal set of kata (prescribed forms) which could be practised by anybody regardless of martial arts background. This was thought to be the best way to popularise the art and assert control over its national dissemination. 
Watanabe Noboru chaired the first committee that was formed to accomplish this task. In 1906, they presented the culmination of their efforts in the form of three kata: Jōdan (ten=heaven), Chūdan (chi=earth), and Gedan (jin=human). However, there was much opposition to this set of three kata and they were eventually laid by the wayside without seeing the national circulation they were designed for. The matter became even more urgent when it was decided that kenjutsu would be included as a part of the physical education curriculum in 1911. 
The Butokukai once again set up a committee to develop a set of kata which would enable effective and unified dissemination. The five kenjutsu masters from various ryūha tasked with this responsibility were Negishi Shingorō, Tsuji Shimpei, Naitō Takaharu, Monna Tadashi, and Takano Sasaburō. In 1912, they presented the Dai Nippon Teikoku Kendō Kata (Great Japan Imperial Kendō Kata) which consisted of seven kata of tachi versus tachi, and three kata of tachi versus kodachi. There were numerous changes and amendments made to the original version in the following years, but it essentially constituted what modern exponents still practise as Nihon Kendō Kata. These kata contributed greatly to the spread of kenjutsu, and provided the means to teach a unified style in the schools of Japan. 

Budō and Nationalism

Nevertheless, bujutsu was not to become elevated to a compulsory subject in the physical education curriculum until 1931. The 1930s were an era of militarism in Japan. As early as 1928, the Minister of Education announced that “all imported ideas were to be thoroughly ‘Japanized’, abnormal thought was to be purged, and educators must firmly support the kokutai (National polity) and truly understand its meaning.” In January 1931, at the time of the ‘Manchurian Incident’, middle school regulations were revised again to make kendo and judo compulsory subjects due to being “recognised as useful in nurturing a resolute, determined patriotic spirit and training both the mind and the body.” Kyudo followed suit in 1933. 
By the mid-1930s Japan’s government was for the most part controlled by the military. Of course militaristic thought also thoroughly permeated the schools, which were ordered to stress patriotism and “seishin kunren”, or “spiritual training.” This trend intensified with the onset of the Pacific War, and taisō (gymnastics) was changed in name to “tairen” (physical discipline) in 1941. By 1942, the government had banned participation in most western sports, and even greater emphasis was placed on the martial arts. In March 1942, physical education classes in schools now focused on kendo, kyudo, judo, naginata (for girls) and rifle practice. The method of training in these arts was harsh with combat application in mind. Kendo was adapted during this time as well, and emphasis on making one devastating sacrificial cut was idealised rather than technical dexterity which might facilitate in winning bouts. In the name of battlefield realism, matches were made ippon-shōbu, or the first person to get a point was the winner as opposed to the best of three. The shinai was also shortened to resemble the length of a real sword. Grappling from close quarters was also encouraged. 

Future Study


Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York
JAANUS, Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System
WIKIPEDIA, The Free Encyclopedia

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