Art & Architecture Overview

Japan's World-Class Works of Art

Image of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Photo:Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji

Japan is home to many world-famous works of art, including traditional crafts and culture passed down from generation to generation, as well as works of art created by the world renowned artists of today.

One of the most famous art forms in Japanese history is ukiyo-e, a genre of painting that was established during the Edo period.

"Ukiyo-e" also means "modern," "modern style," or "fashionable," and ukiyo-e paintings offer a glimpse into the life and fashions of the Edo period.
Ukiyo-e depicts a wide variety of themes from that time period, including plays, classical literature, waka (Japanese poetry), customs, local legends, and stories, as well as portraits, still life, landscapes, civilization, the imperial family, religion, and more.
There are two types of ukiyo-e: woodblock prints and paintings. Paintings were one-of-a-kind, and works by famous artists were extremely expensive.
On the other hand, woodblock prints were inexpensive because they were printed in large quantities with the same pattern and were readily available to the general public in the Edo period.

Today, there are many overseas collectors of Japanese art, and the ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai, in particular, is immensely popular overseas.
In the West, he is praised as the world's greatest painter, and is ranked number one as the greatest artist in Japanese history.
Other famous artists in the history of Japanese art include Sen no Rikyu, Ito Jakuchu, Matsuo Basho, Utagawa Hiroshige, Sesshu Toyo, Ogata Korin, Murasaki Shikibu, and Kano Eitoku.

Some of the world's most famous contemporary Japanese artists include Yayoi Kusama, Tadanori Yokoo, Takashi Murakami and Taro Okamoto, who have fans all over the world.
Other notable contemporary artists include Shozo Shimamoto, Jiro Takamatsu, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Saburo Murakami and Koichiro Kondo.

Contemporary Japanese artists are active around the world in a variety of genres, including contemporary art, art direction, spatial production, 3D art, filmmaking, film directing, flower arrangement, design, and sculpting.
In the world of traditional culture and crafts, many artists have been selected as living national treasures.

Works That Have Fascinated the World

Image of a food sample
Photo:Food sample

In recent years, food samples (plastic food) have been attracting a lot of attention from foreigners as works of art originating from Japan.
Food samples were originally displayed on the menus of restaurants and other establishments, but on Kappabashi Utensils Street, near Asakusa, Tokyo, many foreign tourists can be seen buying them as souvenirs.
In this way, Japanese culture and popular Japanese works have become well known to foreigners.

Beautiful Japanese Architecture

Image of Okayama・Former Senyko Elementary School
Photo:Okayama・Former Senyko Elementary School

Japanese architecture is also sometimes considered art.

The following is a list of popular historical and traditional buildings:

Tsunoshima Bridge [Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture]
The Atomic Bomb Dome [Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture]
The main hall of Zenkoji Temple [Nagano, Japan]
Seto O Hashi Bridge [Sakaide, Kagawa Prefecture]
The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine [Oda, Shimane Prefecture]
Kazurabashi Bridge [Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture]
Sado Gold Mine [Sado, Niigata Prefecture]
Shosoin Shoso Repository [Nara City, Nara Prefecture]
Harimaya Bridge [Kochi, Kochi Prefecture]
The Mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku [Sakai, Osaka Prefecture]
Tokyo Tower [Minato, Tokyo]
Tokyo Station [Chiyoda, Tokyo]
Kobe Port Tower [Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture]
Tomioka Silk Mill [Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture]
Natsume Soseki Former Residence [Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture]
Yakushi-ji Temple's Eastern Pagoda [Nara City, Nara Prefecture]
Togetsu-kyo Bridge (Arashiyama) [Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture]
The Birthplace of Yataro Iwasaki [Aki City, Kochi Prefecture]
Tsujun Bridge [Yamato, Kumamoto Prefecture]
Former Senyko Elementary School [Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture]

Other popular destinations include temples and shrines throughout Japan.

Popular temples and castles have been repeatedly repaired/restored, but still retain their original forms, and you can still feel the Japanese spirit of "Wa."
The traditional skills of Japanese carpenters are said to be among the best in the world, captivating people around the world with their craftsmanship that has been passed down through the centuries.

Image of Tokyo Skytree
Photo:Tokyo Skytree

Some of the most famous and popular buildings in modern Japan are:

Sky Tree [Tokyo]
Seto O Hashi Bridge [Okayama, Kagawa Prefecture]
The National Art Center, Tokyo [Tokyo]
Umeda Sky Building [Osaka]
Kushiro City Museum [Hokkaido]
Aomori Tourist Information Center ASPAM [Aomori Prefecture]
Art Tower Mito [Ibaraki Prefecture]
Abeno Harukas [Osaka]
The Asahi Beer Hall [Tokyo]
Aoyama Technical College [Tokyo]
Odate Jukai Dome [Akita]
Tokyo Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower [Tokyo]
Sunshine 60 [Tokyo]
Roppongi Hills Mori Tower [Tokyo]

Abeno Harukas is the tallest building in Japan, standing at 300 meters tall, and the spectacular night view from the observatory is a popular tourist attraction, ranking alongside Tokyo Sky Tree.

Some world famous architects and builders include Kenzo Tange (Yoyogi National Stadium), Hiroshi Hara (Umeda Sky Building, Kyoto Station), and Kengo Kuma (New National Stadium, Starbucks Coffee Dazaifu Omotesando Store).

COOL JAPAN VIDEOS is a site that introduces the charms of Japan through videos related to Japanese art and architecture!