Japan Collage Picture

For my project depicting a culture not my own, I chose to honor Japan. I wanted to bring in aspects of Japanese culture from different points in time, and- as I am coming from a Western tradition- explore how Japan has influenced and been influenced by Western tradition. To this end, I utilized a large image of a Meiji-era Shinto temple. The reign of Emperor Meiji was marked by increased influence of the West, and a transition between the traditions until that point and increased modernity in Japan. The capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1867, and Japan began to move toward a democratic state, guaranteeing religious freedom for her citizens, and eliminating the feudal system that had been the rule in Japan up until that point (japan-guide.com, “Meiji Period (1868-1912)”). The idea of Japan being influenced by the West also appears in my use of Manga characters. While comic book-style sequential art had existed in Japan as early as 1200 (Aoki), the father of modern manga Osamu Tezuka (Anime News Network Staff, “Osamu Tezuka (The God of Manga)”) was heavily influenced by the art style of Walt Disney and other American animators. The shinigami- a Shinto spirit resembling a Grim Reaper or angel- floating above the temple also alludes to Western influence on Japanese art- she looks very different from the more traditional princess by the cherry blossoms below her. She’s also taken from a post-WWII painting of shinigami raising kamikaze pilots to Heaven (Turnbull, 165). I also alluded to how Japanese art has influenced the West, using elements from Art Nouveau.
I heavily utilized the color red in my composition. In Shinto color symbolism, red symbolizes sincerity, happiness, and fire or the sun (as seen in the Japanese flag). Red is also considered a painful color for evil beings or demons to look upon, so the entrances to Shinto temples are often painted red, and the color is sacred to several Shinto deities including Amaterasu, Kannon (a Buddhist transplant), Jizo, and Binzuru, and is associated with sacred monkeys and foxes. Also, the color combination of red and white is sacred, and is considered a divine color combination (Shumacher). To this end, the Shrine maiden is wearing red and white robes, and holding out a red lantern, as well as holding a fox mask. The composition also heavily utilizes blue, which is a common color in Japanese art, decor, and fashion, as Japan is an island nation and blue represents the sea and sky (Thomas).

Works Cited:

japan-guide.com. “Meiji Period (1868-1912)”. June 9, 2009. <[link]>. Accessed 2/20/2010.

Anime News Network Staff. “Osamu Tezuka (The God of Manga)”. 1998-2010. <[link]>. Accessed 2/20/2010.

Aoki, Deb. “Early Origins of Japanese Comics”. About.com. <[link]>. Accessed 2/20/2010.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Samurai and the Sacred. Osprey Publishing, Westminster, MD. 2006.

Sainton, Roger. Art Nouveau Posters and Graphics. Rizzoli, New York, NY. 1977.

Shumacher, Mark. “Color Red In Japanese Mythology”. December 4, 2005. A to Z Photo Dictionary Japanese Buddhist Statuary. <[link]>. Accessed 2/20/2010

Thomas, Michael. “Symbolism: Colors”. September 7, 2001. Mike’s Anime Open. <[link]>. Accessed 2/20/2010.

Collage References

Anime Insider Magazine #67, April 2009. pg. 65.
Mills, Pat and Oliver LeDroit. Requiem #8, March 2010.
Ashihara, Hinako. Sand Chronicles # 10. July 2009.
Aihara, Miki. Honey Hunt #11. July 2009.
Oda, Eiichiro. One Piece: Romance Dawn #1. August 1996.
Kishimoto, Masashi. Naruto #450. June 2009.
Takei, Hiroyuki. Karakuridoji Ultimo #6: Masters Meeting in Sick Ward.
Turnbull, Stephen. The Samurai and the Sacred. Osprey Publishing, Westminster, MD. 2006. pg 165.
Sainton, Roger. Art Nouveau Posters and Graphics. Rizzoli, New York, NY. 1977. pg 73 (John Austen, Hamlet: Ophelia)
Blacker, J.F. The ABC of Japanese Art. Glenn Books, Lake Quivira, KS. 1920. pg 241.
Collcutt, Martin, Marius Jansen and Isao Kumakura. Cultural Atlas of Japan. Checkmark Books. 1988.
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