Tokyo’s skyline has been increasingly crowded by construction cranes since Japan’s winning bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.
If you want to hear a terrifying ghost story this Halloween, look to Japan.
When late 19th-century Japan fought China for control over Korea in what became known as the First Sino-Japanese War, its explosive naval and land battles offered printmakers sensational, politically gripping new subject matter.
Leaving one’s country to make a new life in another can be an isolating experience, but growing up as the child or grandchild of an immigrant can also be lonely in its own way. Photographer Ricardo Nagaoka knows this firsthand.
Art scholar Michio Hayashi theorized that the popular perception of “Japaneseness” in the West was cemented in the 1980s by triangulating “kitsch hybridity,” “primordial nature,” and “technological sophistication.”
Many of us, when we picture kimono, envision the traditional Japanese garment covered in similarly traditional images: blossoming floral motifs, soaring or leaping animals, mountain peaks and cresting seascapes in Ukiyo-e style.
“I never thought it would turn into this,” 64-year-old Ayano Tsukimi says while surveying her decade-long dedication to making dolls of the dead and disappeared in her nearly abandoned town of Nagoro, Japan.
Because there’s a snowstorm bearing down on us in New York, and because last night I sat through Matthew Barney’s new six-hour film, which deals heavily in bodily secretions, today seems like a good day to alert readers to the existence of something wondrous and wonderful: an illustrated scroll from Japan’s Edo period (1603–1867) depicting a fart battle.
Crafting delicate leaves or willowy hearts is something of a coffee art standard, but a barista in Japan is sculpting designs that creep out in three dimensions from the coffee foam. Kazuki Yamamoto uses just a pin, a spoon, and infinite patience (and ideally, not allowing for the coffee to get cold) to turn the frothed milk into smiling cats that bound from one cup to the next to bat at goldfish, long-necked giraffes, rabbits hunting carrots, and anime characters.
Fifteen years in the making, the current Guggenheim exhibition on Gutai presents a groundbreaking spectrum of the art of that group, shaking to its core the notion of the West as the epicenter of contemporary art practices. The show, curated by Ming Tiampo, associate professor of art history at Carlton University, Ottawa, and Alexandra Munroe, senior curator of Asian art at the museum, is titled Gutai: Splendid Playground, an odd sobriquet to describe the annihilating force that birthed the group in postwar Japan.
Serenity, sometimes, blooms wherever you make it. Late yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the Chelsea storefront of Miya Shoji, a boutique Japanese furniture store that sells elegant wood tables, tatami mats, and lanterns, for an impromptu traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
I always consider it fortunate that at institutions like the Metropolitan Museum, exhibitions continue to argue eloquently that art has evolved along manifold trajectories before postmodern discourses recognized it as so. In that vein, one of the highlights of the fall museum season, Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art, which explores a distinctive style that originated in early 17th century Kyoto and thrived well into the 20th century with far-reaching resonance in Post-Impressionism and Art Nouveau, promises more than an optical feast or a comprehensive academic survey.