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Kuniyoshi’s Faithful Samurai – The Bathos of Victory

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Kuniyoshi’s Faithful Samurai – The Bathos of Victory by toshidama I was struck, looking at some of the very beautiful images from Kuniyoshi’s 1847 series of the 47 Ronin, by the bathos of the figures – the tremendous sense of anticlimax that runs through so many of the prints. This was after all, the defining set […]

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Japanese Art and Ukiyo-e: The Chushingura

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The Chushingura by toshidama Maybe cultures choose the myths that suit their times or maybe it is the myth that inexorably shapes the culture which proceeds them. Either way there can be little doubt that myth and legend underpinned the culture of the late Edo period Japan in formative, disruptive and fundamental ways. Chief amongst […]

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Japanese Portraiture and the Graven Image

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Japanese Portraiture and the Graven Image By toshidama I’m being a little disingenuous with the title of this piece… there’s an intended pun on gravure (from relief printing) and the idea of a graven image (something carved and to be worshipped) – the word is also used in modern Japan to describe fashion models, as ingravure idol. The current show at […]

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Japanese Art and Samurai Taira no Tadamori

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Japanese Art and Samurai Taira no Tadamori Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Taira no Tadamori (1096-1153) is depicted in a prestigious way in Japanese art because this notable samurai was widely respected during his lifetime.  Tadamori also played a very important role in the consolidation of the Taira samurai clan within the Imperial Court. […]

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Japanese Art and Folklore: Kintaro the Golden Boy

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Japanese Art and Folklore: Kintaro the Golden Boy Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Kintaro remains extremely popular in modern Japan because of the power of animation and other aspects of modern culture which maintains his rich visibility. In the Edo period the world of noh, kabuki and ukiyo-e provided a rich vein of information […]

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What to Look For in a Piece of Art: Sarah Lucas and the Mitate of an Elite

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What to Look For in a Piece of Art – Sarah Lucas and the Mitate of an Elite By toshidama Art is of course a great communicator…for centuries it was the great communicator. It still is, but reading a piece of (contemporary) art these days leads to considerable discussion and anger, (judging by newspaper columns) and yet […]

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Konishi Hirosada and the Ghost of Koheiji: Buddhism, Shintoism and the Evil Akuba

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Konishi Hirosada and the Ghost of Koheiji: Buddhism, Shintoism and the Evil Akuba Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The power of the Shinto faith runs deep throughout the fabric of Japanese religion, folklore, culture and other important aspects of society. Buddhism which emanated from outside of Japan would also greatly impact itself within the […]

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Japanese Art, Religion and Mythology: The Body of the People

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Magic in Japan – The Body of the People By toshidama In this case not necessarily the physical body – I’m thinking here of the cultural body and how that relates to the people. When we look at the extraordinary corpus of Japanese woodblock prints from the nineteenth century we are struck firstly by its hermeticism. This […]

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Japanese Ukiyo-e in a Changing Artistic Landscape: Chikanobu and the Impact of Modernity

Japanese Ukiyo-e in a Changing Artistic Landscape: Chikanobu and the Impact of Modernity Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Yoshu Chikanobu (Toyohara Chikanobu) lived between 1838 and 1912 and much of his art highlights the changing nature of Japan. The opening up of the land of the rising sun after the Meiji Restoration provided many […]

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Japanese Art and Impressions of Women: Ukiyo-e and Impressionism

Impressions of Women – Ukiyo-e and Impressionism  By toshidama It’s handy to think of national (or even nationalistic) characteristics in art; I’m thinking of books such as Pevsner’s The Englishness of English Art from 1955 for example. The reality is that people talk to each other; artists, architects, producers and makers have a constant dialogue; dialogue informs the […]

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