Understanding Japanese periods in art

23 September 2016
To understand how Japanese works of art are dated, here you are a list of the periods and their peculiarities.
(Source: Wikipedia)
    Jomon (縄文時代) from origins to 300 BC circa
    The name "cord-marked" was first applied by the American scholar Edward S. Morse who discovered shards of pottery in 1877 and subsequently translated it into Japanese as jōmon. Jomon period was rich in tools and jewelry made from bone, stone, shell, and antler; pottery figurines and vessels; this culture is often compared to pre-Columbian cultures
    Yayoi (弥生時代) from 300 BC to 300 AD circa
    Yayoi pottery was simply decorated and produced on a potter's wheel, as opposed to Jōmon pottery which was produced by hand. Yayoi craft specialists made bronze ceremonial bells, mirrors and weapons.
    Yamato (大和時代) from 300 to 710 AD
    The Kofun and the subsequent Asuka periods are sometimes referred to collectively as the Yamato period. The Kofun period is divided from the Asuka period by its cultural differences: the Kofun period is characterized by a Shinto culture which existed prior to the introduction of Buddhism.
    Nara (奈良時代) from 710 to 794 AD
    For the first time, Japan has a capital: Nara. A major cultural development of the era was the permanent establishment of Buddhism. Also, with the spread of written language, the writing of Japanese poetry, known in Japanese as waka, began. 
    Heian (平安時代) from 794 to 1185 AD
   Known also as Fujiwara period, the Heian Period is considered a high point in Japanese culture that later generations have always admired. The period is also noted for the rise of the samurai class, which would eventually take power and start the feudal period of Japan. This period is marked by the crystallization of the Yamato-e tradition of painting, based on national rather than on Chinese taste,
    Kamakura (鎌倉時代) from 1185 to 1333
    Takes its name from the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan. The new class created a demand for paintings and sculptures portraying officials, warriors, priests, and poets. The school of the sculptor Jocho was continued by Kokei, Kaikei, and Unkei, the principal Kamakura sculptor. These artists imbued their works with a vigor and attention to realistic detail that was never equaled. Kamakura was the age of the great popularization of Buddhism.
    Nanbokucho ((南北朝時代) from 1336 to 1392
    Also known as the Northern and Southern Courts period, this was a period that occurred during the formative years of the Muromachi bakufu. The warriors were attracted to the culture of the nobles, and enthusiastically emulated the latter's tastes until they were able to produce a synthesis that went beyond what had existed earlier such as the rise of rock gardens influenced by Zen among other art forms that have had a lasting impact to this day. 
   Muromachi (室町時代) from 1336 to 1573
  Also known as Ashikaga period, the government was established in Kyoto. Zen played a central role in spreading not only religious teachings and practices but also art and culture, including influences derived from paintings of various Chinese dynasties. The proximity of the imperial court to the bakufu resulted in a commingling of imperial family members, courtiers, daimyō, samurai, and Zen priests. Art of all kinds—architecture, literature, Noh drama, Kyōgen (comedy), poetry, sarugaku (folk entertainment), the tea ceremony, landscape gardening, and flower arranging—all flourished during Muromachi times. Artworks are characterized by economy of execution, forceful brushstrokes, and asymmetrical composition, with emphasis on unfilled space. During this period sculpture began to lose its Buddhist inspiration.
    Azuchi Momoyama (安土桃山時代) from 1573 to 1615
    The Momoyama period is the final phase of the Sengoku period (warring states period) in Japan. During this period, a short but spectacular epoch, Japanese society, and culture underwent the transition from the medieval era to the early modern era. The Momoyama period was a period of interest in the outside world, which also saw the development of large urban centers and the rise of the merchant class. The ornate castle architecture and interiors adorned with painted screens embellished with gold leaf were a reflection of a daimyo's power but also exhibited a new aesthetic sense that marked a clear departure from the somber monotones favored during the Muromachi period.  The art of the tea ceremony also flourished at this time and collecting tea bowls, caddies, and other implements was a major hobby among high-level warriors.
   Edo (江戸時代) from 1615 to 1867
It is also known also as "Tokugawa period", as Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The school of painting started in the Edo period (1615–1867) by Koetsu Hon'ami and Sotatsu Tawaraya and continued by Ogata Korin and Ogata Kenzan represented a return to the native tradition of Japanese painting. 
    Meiji (明治時代) from 1868 to 1912
  This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan during which Japanese society moved from being an isolated feudal society to its modern form. Fundamental changes affected its social structure, internal politics, economy, military, and foreign relations. 
    Taisho (大正時代) from 1912 to 1926
    The influence of Western culture experienced in the Meiji period continued.  The era is considered the time of the liberal movement known as the "Taishō democracy" in Japan; it is usually distinguished from the preceding chaotic Meiji period and the following militarism-driven first part of the Shōwa period.[
     Showa (昭和時代) from 1926 to 1989
During the pre-1945 period, Japan moved into political totalitarianism, ultranationalism and fascism culminating in Japan's invasion of China in 1937. This was part of an overall global period of social upheavals and conflicts such as the Great Depression and the Second World War.
    Heisei (平成時代) from 1989 to present
    The modern Japan we all know, where antique traditions and ultramodern technologies live together in an intelligible country.




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