Japanese Art: Humble and Bold

Grade Level: 
Student Level: 
High School

Japanese art encompasses aesthetics ranging from earthy and subtle to colorful and luxurious. In this lesson students encounter works in a variety of media, including ceramics used in the tea ceremony, enamelware, and folding screens made from paper and wood. Discussion focuses not only on the formal qualities of these works, but also on their practical uses. Critical thinking is encouraged through analysis of the works of art as an indicator of Japanese social values and tastes.

Program Format: 
  • Introduce selected Japanese terms, which describe two different aesthetics in Japanese art.
  • Introduce key points of program and explain that students will analyze the characteristics of the art works shown.
  • Comparison of different types of Japanese art and decorative arts objects via interactive discussion.
  • Introduction to the tea ceremony and the aesthetics of the objects used.
  • Interactivities: Japanese language experience; ceremony design groups.
  • Students will recognize the dual nature of Japanese art-sometimes natural, irregular and modest, and other times bright and flamboyant-and will identify examples of each.
  • Students will gain observation skills necessary for appreciating a work of art, and will think about how these images display an interest in natural forces and how the images affect sensory perception.
  • Students will learn introductory-level Japanese words used to describe works of art.