Anatomical: From anatomy, the structure
of an animal or human that lies underneath the skin: the bones, muscles,
and fat that give it shape.
Anime: A style of animation developed in Japan. Characters often have large eyes, and images are brightly colored.
Giving human characteristics to animals or objects.
The religion and philosophy that developed from the teachings of the
Indian sage Siddhartha. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the sixth
century A.D., and it became the state religion in the eighth century.
An artistic form of writing. Japanese calligraphy is elegant and is most highly valued when it looks as if it has been written quickly and without hesitation or mistakes.
Chan: The Chinese name for a form
of Buddhism in which insights are gained through meditation. It developed
into Zen Buddhism when introduced by Chinese monks to Japan in the seventh
century A.D. (See Zen)
Chinese Culture: For thousands
of years, the Japanese have adopted and transformed Chinese writing and
arts, as well as religion and philosophy.
Japan has suffered few foreign invasions and has absorbed new ideas through influence
rather than military conquest.
The arrangement of shapes within an artwork.
Courtesan: A woman who earns her living
by entertaining noblemen or men of wealth.
A feudal lord who ruled over Japan’s provinces.
A god, goddess, or a person considered supremely powerful.
At the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868), the Japanese capital was moved from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo). Although isolated from the rest of the world, it was a time of peace and stability for Japan.
Enlightenment: In Buddhism: wisdom,
the understanding of the true nature of reality. To reach enlightenment
is to have true compassion for others, which creates freedom from suffering.
Familiar: A spirit, in animal or
human form that protects or serves a human.
Floating World: The entertainment quarters
of Edo (Tokyo) and other cities were called "floating world" because
its inhabitants lived "only for the moment, tuning our full attention
to the pleasures...singing songs, drinking wine, diverting ourselves
in just floating..." (Novelist Asai Ryoi, 1658).
Formalism: An attention to style or composition in an artwork. In formal works, the meaning or story is less important than the way the subject is depicted.
Hand scroll: A roll of paper or
silk on which an illustrated scene or written story unfolds as the scroll
Ideogram: A picture or symbol used in a system of writing to represent a thing or an idea but not a particular word or phrase for it.
Immortal: In Chinese Taoism, the
Immortals were holy men or teachers who were thought to live forever.
Ink: Japanese ink is made from
pine soot and vegetable oils and molded into a stick. To create ink for
calligraphy or a painting, the artist grinds the stick on an ink stone
and dilutes the resulting powder with water.
Isolation: Because he did not wish
to be challenged by outside influences, the shogun closed Japan at the
beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868). Only a few isolated ports were
open to traders from China and the West.
Kano School: A family of artists
who developed what became the official painting style of Japan's miltary
rulers. They were influential from the fifteenth century to the end of
the Edo period in the mid-nineteenth century.
Kappa: A mythological river imp
that preys on travelers. A kappa has fish scales, a turtle shell, a
face like a bird or a monkey, and a dish-shaped depression on the top
of its heads that holds a liquid that is the source of its superhuman
Kimono: A long robe with wide sleeves traditionally worn with a broad sash as an outer garment by Japanese men, women, and children.
Kyoto: The capital of Japan from
794 to 1603.
Landscape: A picture representing a view of natural scenery.
Manga: The Japanese word manga (manga is both singular and plural) has been used since the late 1700s to describe informal drawings and sketches.
Mythological: Traditional beliefs
that provide explanations for natural or historical events. A mythological
animal may explain the cause of storms (dragons) or the mysterious disappearance
of travelers (the kappa).
Monochrome: Art that is made is
different shades of a single color, usually black.
Naturalistic: A realistic depiction in the arts usually based on observing nature directly.
Netsuke: A small and often intricately
carved toggle made from wood, ivory, or metal used to fasten a small
container on a cord to a kimono sash.
Origami: The Japanese art of folding paper into shapes such as birds, animals, and containers.
Pleasure Quarters: The districts
in Tokyo, Kyoto, and other Japanese cities where merchants and wealthy
men hired artists, entertainers, and courtesans.
Qing dynasty: The last line of Chinese emperors (1644-1911).
Realistic: Art that depicts real
life rather than imaginary subjects in a way that is based on the direct
observation of nature.
Representation: A likeness or image of a person, an animal, or some other subject.
Sage: A man who gains wisdom through experience and learning.
Samurai: A member of the Japanese
warrior class who serves a lord. The samurai had an elaborate code of
ethics and behavior.
School: A group of artists who
study under one teacher or group of teachers and who have the same influences
on the materials they use, the subjects they depict, and the style they
use to render them.
Shading: To add color or lines to an image to give the effect of volume or shadow.
Shape: The external surface or outline of an object.
Shi-shi: A mythological lion or lion-dog.
Shinto: A belief system that evolved
in Japan. People who practice the Shinto faith honor many deities, called
kami, of natural forces or places.
In times past, some venerated the emperor of Japan as a kami.
Shogun: For most of the period
between 1192 and 1868, the government of Japan was dominated by a hereditary
warlord called a shogun. The word shogun means “general.”
Spontaneous: A movement or feeling that comes from an impulse without outside influence.
Style: A distinctive way of creating an artwork.
Stylized: To create an artwork following the rules of a style rather than from direct observation of nature.
Taoist: A believer in Taoism, the Chinese
philosophy that teaches about the universal energy, or Tao, a force that
gives birth to all things. It stresses inner contemplation, the mystical
union with nature, and the idea of allowing things to take their natural
Tosa style: A style that was developed
by a family of Japanese artists who worked for the Imperial court in
the traditional painting style of Japan through the end of the Edo period.
Ukiyo-e: "Pictures of the Floating
World." Woodblock prints and paintings that showed scenes of the “floating
the pleasure quarters of Tokyo and other Japanese cities. (See Pleasure
Volume: The weight or mass of an object.
Wash: To spread a thin coat of wet ink or paint over the surface of a painting or drawing.
Woodblock print: An artwork created
by carving a wooden block or blocks and pressing them to paper
or other materials. Each color is added to the print with a separate
block or overlaying applications of color.
Yin and Yang: In Eastern philosophies,
two opposite but harmonius forces that make up all aspects of life.
Zen: A Japanese form of Buddhism
that emphasizes meditation, the relationship between the teacher and
student, and sometimes the use of conundrums to induce enlightenment.
It was introduced by Chinese monks into Japan in the seventh century
and became popular in the twelfth.
Zodiac: A band of constellations
or groupings of stars in the sky. The constellations are thought by some
to have specific meanings and powers. Astrology is the study of the stars
and planets and their possible effect on human life.
- Encyclopedia Britannica online
- The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Japan, ed
by Richard Bowring, Cambridge University Press, 1993
- Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Kodansha, 1993
- Modern Japan: A Historical Survey, by
Mikiso Hane, Westview Press, 2001
- Japanese Art: Revised Edition, Joan Stanley-Baker, Thames
and Hudson, 2001 edition
- How to Look at Japanese Art, by Stephen Addiss, Abrams,