Painting is one of the most popular forms of art in Japan.
Japanese paintings, which were highly influenced by Chinese style of
painting, are exquisite and at times can be very intricate. In the Muromachi
period (1338-1573), Chinese paintings were introduced in Japan, owing to the
influx of Chinese trade. Many Japanese noblemen started purchasing
paintings to adorn their house and developed a liking for the Chinese style
of painting. Due to this affinity for Chinese paintings, many Japanese
painters adopted this style to create fine masterpieces that would appeal to
The Japanese painters belonging to the Muromachi period reflected deep sense of space and each painting depicted a story. Later, landscape painting was developed in the Momoyama period (1573-1603); the paintings were usually produced on giant screens. During the Edo period (1603-1867), a different style of painting evolved where paintings had gold leaf backgrounds to create an effect similar to holy mosaics belonging to the Western Medieval period. Around the same time, the Ukiyo-e style emerged; it involved woodblock printing.
In the Meiji period (1868-1912), Japanese paintings came under the influence of western styles as well. Several painting schools were established in Japan and each school pursued a style of their choice. The term "Suibokuga" refers to paintings that utilized black ink for painting. It was inherited from China and bore the distinct mark of Zen Buddhism.
Kano Masanobu, along with his son Kano Motonobu (1476-1559), laid the foundation of the Kano painting school, which was started in protest against the Chinese black ink painting method. The Kano school made use of bright and vibrant colors and experimented with bold compositions that included large and flat areas. These paintings became a source of inspiration for the Ukiyo-e designs. The "nanga" painting style was highly prominent during the Bunka and Bunsai era.
Japanese paintings have managed to capture the hearts of many people mostly due to their sense of space and aesthetic beauty. Japanese artists utilized a wide range of mediums for their paintings. Some of the popular subjects of Japanese paintings include landscapes, women, famous places, and spectacular views.
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