Japan Gallery introduces Japanese history and art. It is divided into two sections: The first deals with pre-modern period, and the second covers the modern period.
Art of this island country changed significantly whenever foreign culture was introduced. Ancient Japanese culture from the Jomon and Yayoyi periods to the Kofun period was impacted substantially by the introduction of Buddhist art that was transmitted to Japan in the mid-6th century. From the Asuka period to the Nara period, Buddhist art was enriched by Chinese and Korean influences.
During the Heian period, Esoteric Buddhist and Pure Land Buddhist art, which reflected aristocratic tastes, developed. Under governance by the shogunate during the Kamakura period, Buddhist art that focused on realistic representations was in fashion. Japanese art underwent a second turning point in the thirteenth century due to cultural transmissions from Song dynasty. Under this influence, Zen Buddhism was first transmitted to Japan and contributed to the establishment of unique Japanese aesthetic cultural elements such as the tea ceremony and Noh theater.
As exchanges with the West were introduced in the sixth century, merchants in Edo, who were more liberal in nature, sponsored new popular cultural elements such as ukiyo-e and kabuki. In the late nineteenth century, when the opening of ports prompted a flood of the contemporary civilization of the West into Japan, it began to undergo modernization. Furthermore, in the midst of these cultural exchanges with the West Japan gained a new understanding of its own culture through its cultural resistance to Westernization.
Japanese painters strove to maintain their unique culture by using traditional materials, techniques, and subject matter while simultaneously embracing Western innovations in their works. Similarly, traditional Japanese crafts practitioners employed new techniques and elements in their creative efforts.