Visual Literacy Exercise

An Introduction to Japan

Osaka 2001:
... at the dawn of a new millenium

Beyond Moss and Stone:
The Japanese Garden in Cultural Context

Traditional Japanese Architecture:
An Illustrated Overview

The Native Tradition

The Rule of Taste

The Way of the Warrior

The Floating World

Visual Resources Homepage:
Japanese History and Culture

visual resources
for the investigation of
JAPANESE HISTORY AND CULTURE

THE CULTURAL HISTORY OF JAPAN

A SERIES OF ILLUSTRATED LECTURES

CLICK ON ANY UNDERLINED TITLE AT THE SIDE
OR
IN THE ANNOTATED INDEX LIST BELOW
TO BE TAKEN TO A LECTURE TOPIC


Visual Literacy Exercise

An exercise based on selected woodblock prints from a famous mid-nineteenth century series by Hiroshige Ando depicting scenic views along the Tokaido ("Eastern Sea Route") highway linking Edo (the modern city of Tokyo) and Kyoto, the center of Japanese imperial court life.

An Introduction to Japan

An illustrated presentation covering Japanese geography and the influence of the physical setting on the formation and growth of traditional Japanese culture; also examines the location and character of Japan's major urban centers, the interplay between past and present, and the importance of keeping the nation's people in mind as the centerpiece of any study of Japanese culture and civilization.

Osaka 2001:
... at the dawn of a new millenium

For those new to the study of Japan, here's an opportunity to explore one of the nation's most important urban areas and, while there, to examine both aspects of the physical space the city occupies and some of the similarities and differences the American visitor might encounter.

.

Beyond Moss and Stone:
The Japanese Garden in Cultural Context

This illustrated lecture explores the place of the garden in contemporary Japanese society and culture. The presentation notes differences between gardens found in the West and Japan, then considers the types of gardens likely to be seen in Japan. The discussion next focuses on the materials, objects and plants found in the Japanese setting. Attention is also given to the interplay between house and garden and to the variety of literary, aesthetic, poetic and religious influences found at work in the Japanese garden

Traditional Japanese Architecture:
An Illustrated Overview

This exploration of traditional forms of Japanese architecture examines examples of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, aristocratic palaces and samurai mansions, castles, rural farmhouses and urban townhouses. It considers as well the materials and construction techniques employed in traditional forms of Japanese architecture and the functional and symbolic uses of space within various types of traditional structures.

The Native Tradition

During the Familial Period of Japanese history (before the Fourth Century), three distinct cultural styles developed in the Japanese islands: Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun. Analyzing artifacts and mythological records from this time period (and later) enables archeologists to identify a set of cultural norms at the root of many subsequent Japanese cultural developments.

The Rule of Taste

The historical process whereby the Yamato clan came to exercise imperial power over an increasingly centralized political state dominates the early centuries of aristocratic rule in Japan between 784 and 1185. This is also a time heavily influenced by imported Chinese institutions and forms which proved useful in establishing imperial power and the era's associated aristocratic cultural style.

The Way of the Warrior

Between 1185 and 1600 the military - aristocracy came to exercise political power over the centralized state. During these same centuries warrior cultural values and the impact of Buddhism dominated religious, artistic, literary and architectural traditions. Then, in the end, the loss of centralized political control during the final century of military - aristocratic rule left power in the hands of local daimyo feudal lords.

The Floating World

Between 1600 and 1868, the Tokugawa family, the era's leading military - bureaucratic power holders, came to control the centralized state. Despite attempts to maintain the status quo, the process of change and development continued, giving rise to Japan's first truly popular cultural style and eventually undermining Tokugawa power and authority as well.


This site has been prepared by Lee A. Makela (l.makela@csuohio.edu); please contact him with any comments. 

Last revised: January 14, 2011