Japan is a very surprising and not always understandable country for Europeans. Its geographical position, its specific language, the special casino rules that can be seen on このページ, the peculiarities of state policy and the ancient traditions of the people have led to partial isolation from other countries. For this reason, Japanese culture and aesthetics have distinctive characteristics that distinguish them from what can be seen in other countries.
Japan: culture and religion
It was Japan that gave the world such poetic genres as hoku, tanka and haiku. Ancient Japanese engravings still amaze connoisseurs and art lovers with their expressiveness and completeness. We are also fascinated by the local theatre, complex language and poetry for which Japan is famous. Religion is another specific element that distinguishes this country from others.
The so-called Old Japanese language originated by borrowing the sign system and writing of ancient China. Despite its gradual transformation, it remains one of the most difficult to learn. Shintoism and Zen Buddhism, which were the main religions in this country for many centuries, pioneered a certain approach to life and art. Shintoism is a kind of ancient mythology describing the life of gods and spirits. Under the influence of religion, the country developed very close relationships within social groups, the cult of leaders and the cult of the dead. The emergence of Buddhism in Japan and its rapid spread is still a mystery to scholars, but from the 5th century onwards it began to exert a serious influence on the minds and psychology of the country’s population.
In almost all works of ancient painting in Japan, one of the main places is occupied by nature, which from a religious point of view is the embodiment of the divine principle. Another element of Japan’s fascinating culture is literature. It was created relatively early and by women. While Japanese men wrote using Chinese characters, women, who were not allowed to learn foreign languages, wrote in Japanese, creating surprisingly beautiful works that realistically reflect the world. The National Museum in Tokyo (address: 13-9 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 110-871) provides an opportunity to explore a rich collection of exhibits that allow us to trace the relationship between different aspects of Japanese culture and their development over the centuries.
A unique layer of the country’s culture is linked to the traditions of the samurai. These emerged in the 7th century. Zen Buddhism was the basis of the samurai ideology, on the basis of which the teachings of bushido were developed – a code of honour, which was strictly observed by the samurai. The appearance of the samurai – bushi – was formed in the 18th century. The history of the samurai class ended already in the 19th century, but the spirit of bushido still lives on in Japan, as became quite evident during the Second World War.
The search for harmony between all elements of life is perhaps the most characteristic of all Japanese art. The desire to find the brightest accents that best emphasise the individuality of the depicted object, regardless of how the information is presented, makes the country’s art ever relevant. The exact balance of the best colour transitions combined with exquisite lines in paintings distinguishes the paintings of Japanese artists. All of them, including applied works that are used in everyday life, are full of hidden meaning and provide a fresh look at the surrounding reality.
Globalism manifests itself in all aspects of life, and so Japan’s contemporary culture could not resist it. In the contemporary art of this country, trends that are taking shape in the main cultural area of the world are taking shape, but nevertheless every work of Japanese artists, poets, writers, filmmakers still carry those characteristics that the Land of the Rising Sun has protected for many centuries as one of its treasures.
Japan: what is worth seeing?
Monuments, parks, amazing buildings – this is what Japan is famous for. A trip to this country, is an opportunity to watch the unique culture and the latest technological solutions. A trip to Japan should be properly planned, because the capital city itself offers us many tourist attractions. It is impossible to visit Japan in one weekend.
Japan is an amazing mix of ancient traditions, temples and the most advanced technologies. A country that respects its past immensely, yet rushes quickly into the future with unique natural wonders and creative heritage in its arsenal. There are several places that we must see if we have come to Japan. One of them is the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. It is one of the most interesting natural places in Japan, with around 20 million visitors a year. The park features the famous Mount Fuji, 5 large mountain lakes located nearby at an altitude of over 1,000 metres, hot springs and waterfalls, islands and a beach, as well as ancient Buddhist and Shinto temples.
A popular spot in the park is the cable car to Mount Hakone, which was previously an active volcano. It is surrounded by 6 small volcanoes. What else is there to see in Japan? Matsumoto Castle, of course. It is located in the town of the same name and is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Amazingly it has been preserved in its original form, although it was built for a minute in the 16th century. Matsumoto is called the “Castle of the Black Crow.” This attraction sits on a lake where white swans swim, the grounds include an amazing sakura park and chrysanthemum garden.
Shinjuku Geen National Park in Tokyo is one of the largest parks in Japan. It has become famous for its beauty and diversity. The territory of Shinjuku Geen includes 3 large gardens: a classical Japanese garden, located by two ponds, an “ordinary” French garden and an English landscape garden. Itsukushima Temple, on the other hand, is a national treasure of Japan. Because of its rich nature, as well as its long history (the shrine was established long before our era), Itsukushima has become a pilgrimage site for thousands of tourists.
Japan respects ancient traditions and actively introduces new technologies. In Tokyo, many travellers get the impression that they are in the future. It is extremely picturesque, designed for ideal and relaxing entertainment. Kenroku-en is home to over 8000 species of trees, shrubs, plants. There are waterfalls, streams, fountains and bridges. Every metre of the park is thought out to the smallest detail. Finally, you must also see the Hiroshima Peace Memorial commemorating the atomic bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.