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The Allure of Japanese Art

Japanese Visual Language

Japan is shrouded in a mysterious beauty.

This is immediately noticeable from its language. It has a fascinatingly rich vocabulary. There are countless niche untranslatables to discover. The uniqueness of the language lends these words or phrases an enigmatic quality. There is no simple equivalent in other languages. Hitomebore finds its translation in ‘love at first sight’. Yet Koi No Yokan is a beautiful phrase encompassing an even greater scope of meaning. It is the feeling when you first meet somebody that you will eventually at some point inevitably fall in love with.

The beauty and elusiveness of Japanese art is no different. A viewer admires Japanese engravings or lush kimono embroideries, often without knowing about their symbolism or the sacred system of principles on which they were created. Japanese art has an exotic touch which is irresistible. And yet Japanese art is equally touching. A viewer discovers in Japanese art, first of all, something of their own.

The Japanese decorative arts can first be recognized by their humble natural bases such as wood. The style is equally distinctive. Ephemerality or mujo, has become one of the main motifs of Japanese culture for many centuries. In the seventeenth century the print form known as ukiyo-e, ‘floating world’ was created. It focuses on the bittersweet idea of the fragile and transitory nature of life.

This way to carry the beauty of Japanese art with you.

Hokusai: A Master of the Elements

Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa is still the enduring image of Japanese art and is the most famous print of the ukiyo-e period. Katsushika Hokusai was born in 1760 in Edo, nowadays Tokyo. Hokusai went by many different names during his lifetime but began using the names Hokusai in 1797. The Japanese artist became interested in linear perspective after discovering Western prints brought by Dutch traders.

The Great Wave is the first sheet of Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Fuji series. Such collections of engravings served as a kind of ‘virtual travel’ for the townspeople of 19th-century Japan. It was a way to satisfy their curiosity - convenient and inexpensive. Engravings like Fuji cost about 20 mon - about the same as a double serving of noodles in a Japanese eatery of the time. The success of the series was so great that the Wave was reprinted from new boards more than 1000 times.

Discover an equally vibrant palette to that of the Great Wave on the Hokusai tote bag featuring Red Fuji, Mountains in Clear Weather. It depicts a moment of the autumnal golden hour on the mount. It is a scene of enigmatic beauty. Or for the lovers of timeless soft pastels, there is in Fuji from Gotenyama’s cherry-shaded picnic scene. This Hokusai tote bag brings with it the freshness of spring. Airy and light, the blossom sits like puffy white clouds.

The Art Master’s Legacy

Find touches of Hokusai in Western art too. His creations had a transformative impact on the work of Western artists like Monet, Degas, Munch and van Gogh. Cherry blossom, the Japanese symbol of renewal, inspired van Gogh’s Almond Blossom. The Prussian blue of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa can also be traced to the European modernist founder’s Starry Night. Hokusai was at the forefront of new technologies, using the latest and most vibrant hues as they became available and his experimentation with design, composition, and perspective introduced a three-dimensionality to the traditionally two-dimensional Japanese pictorial aesthetic.
Find LOQI, your favorite Hokusai tote bagand much more Japanese art at the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum in Japan.