Shinto Japan

September 15, 2009

1. What are the main visual design elements that define the culture or time period? Look at Clothing, Architecture, etc. (5 examples)


http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/ij/images/ japan_goldenpav.lg.JPG

This Japanese structure contains daring designs and shows Japanese as well as Chinese influences. From the elements of design, you can see lines and two-dimensional forms, as well as patterns and textures. Color also plays an important role in order to separate the structure from the background.

This picture shows distinct lines in the clothing that make the garb look as though it is 2-dimensional, even though it is obviously 3-dimensional. The clothing is all white, which shows purity and devotion to the religion. This particular picture was taken from a Shinto wedding, which also makes sense in terms of the white garb. There is contrasting texture in this outfit, as well. The clothing is very sleek and clean while the hat looks rough and bumpy. All in all, the outfit has balance in it, as it is very symmetrical.


http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/ images/as/images/asJP1847.R.jpg

This picture shows their depiction of certain natural disasters and how much respect they have for it.  Being an island nation, the ocean plays a huge role in their daily life, and this piece of art depicts how much nature occurs in their lives. Movement and color is very prominent in this painting, as the viewer can almost see the waves moving and crashing, while the color sets a very dark and ominous mood making the water supreme.

Sun Goddesshttp://4.bp.blogspot.com/_YVK9luYdliA/SfJ_XcqGjvI/AAAAAAAAGj0/HiDD8FmmTzI/s400/12+amaterasu-no-kami.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_YVK9luYdliA/SfJ_XcqGjvI/ AAAAAAAAGj0/HiDD8FmmTzI/s400/12+amaterasu-no-kami.jpg

In this picture, the sun goddess, Amaterasu, is wearing white, like in the picture before. Again, this color shows purity and devotion to the religion. This image shows an emphasis on the red sun in the background in relation to Amaterasu’s head, giving her a halo-like look.

Japanese Empire Flaghttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v290/Mariyuko/Japanese_empire_flag.png

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v290/Mariyuko/ Japanese_empire_flag.png

This example shows the Japanese flag.  Flags, in general, sum up an entire culture of a people in one picture.  The Japanese flag shows a picture of a rising sun, which shows how important nature is to their culture.  In the elements and principles of design, it shows lines and unity.  The lines show the power the rays of the sun has on the people, while the unity is the unity of the people, culture, and beliefs all in one picture.


2. How AND why were these elements used during the height of the culture?

Elements and principles such as lines, 2-dimensional form, emphasis, unity, movement, etc, all tie in to the concept of a clean yet powerful statement in Japan during the Shinto religion. The lines and 2-dimensional form show a cleanliness and structured look, showing order in the culture and religion. In the pictures of the white clothing and the architecture, both display a sense of control and order in its looks. Both have distinct lines and points that emphasize the simple and clean organization of the style. The images of the Japanese flag and the sun goddess show lines, unity and emphasis. The lines are obvious – they are the lines of the rays – and the unity, especially in the image of the flag, shows the whole picture coming together in one statement to show power and control. In terms of emphasis, the sun goddess picture has the sun right behind Amaterasu’s head, giving her a halo-like look, which makes her seem very powerful. In the image of the wave, that shows movement in its power. Basically, all of these elements were used in this time period to show the power and control Japan had during the Shinto religion.


3. What visual references or examples in our culture today come from that time period? (3 examples)

Manhattan SkyscrapersManhattan

http://www.grahamowengallery.com/photography/ images1/Manhattan.jpg

In today’s American culture, the skyscrapers of New York City serve as a good example of the architecture from Medieval Japan. Both types of architecture can be described as tall, daring, and complex.

Clothing in Weddingshttp://www.elvispresleynews.com/images/LisaMarieWedding.jpg

http://www.elvispresleynews.com/images/ LisaMarieWedding.jpg

This shows Americans, Lisa Marie Presley to be exact, engaging in a wedding using traditional Japanese influences during the ceremony.  She is wearing a traditional komono, bringing the culture of that time period into the much westernized modern day culture.

These Vans shoes are a perfect example of how the Rising Sun plays a role in American culture today. The rising sun symbol is often seen in the punk rock and skateboarding scene. Some countries find this symbol offensive, but in America, the Rising Sun is just another symbol in society.



Japan was isolated from the world for a long period of time before the 19th century. During this time, Shintoism played an important role in the developing the cultural designs depicted in American culture today. It is said that China played an important role in the development of Japanese art and design, but not until Buddhism reached Japan in the late 6th century. It is logical that China had the biggest influence on Japan because China is the closest country to Japan.

The biggest principles of elements and design seen in Shintoism are the use of lines, 2-dimensional form, movement, unity, and color. Shintoism also focuses on nature and the divine spirits of the gods. The religion was considered divine up until the end of World War II. Symbols from the Shintoism can be seen today in American cultures, but other countries consider the symbols inappropriate. This is because symbols, such as the rising sun, were associated with the Japanese military during World War II.



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