Spontaneity in Japanese Art and Culture

This is the first comprehensive analysis of Japanese art and aesthetics in their cultural context. A central theme is that Japanese art and aesthetics are governed by many of the same cultural rules that apply in other areas of life.

Written for a general audience, this book will also appeal to Japan specialists and to those teaching courses on Japan because of its broad approach to seeing aesthetics in its cultural context. It is also an excellent resource for travelers to Japan or anyone interested in Japanese culture.

Spontaneity in Japanese Art and Culture is profusely illustrated with over 200 color photographs and is presented in an easy to read format.  ISBN:  978-0-9881110-1-1

A recent e-mail from a colleague makes this comment:   

"I must tell you how much I enjoyed your book. It's a book one should read before going to Japan and then take with you when you go. David, it would make a good supplement to your lectures. I especially liked the format with the two columns of large, clear sans serif font. It is a most attractive book.  Dr. Keith Smillie, Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta, Edmonton.

Two excerpts from two recent reviews:

“Spontaneity in Japanese Art and Culture is not just a book for the aficionados of Japanese culture; therefore, it is a book that can enrich us all.  David and Michiko Young, known for their in depth, academically detailed books, “Introduction to Japanese Architecture”, “The Art of Japanese Architecture”, and “The Art of the Japanese Garden” have been able to convey, in this book, complex ideas in layperson language; this is thanks to their more than thirty years of research into Japanese culture and aesthetics."
Naomi Beth Wakan   http://www.naomiwakan.com/     Click here for the complete review

"The richness and complexities of Japanese art and aesthetics are presented so clearly and illustrated so beautifully in this book, the reader truly is transported to the heart of Japanese culture and given a wonderful tool by which to see the logic and connection among such different aspects of Japanese life, while also making clear the profound concepts underlying different forms of art. To make sense of diversity in a culture and to reveal the social norms that underlie it is the heart of the anthropological enterprise. This book is not only one of the clearest expositions of Japanese aesthetics; it is an anthropological triumph."
Pamela Asquith, www.pamelaasquith.ca
    Click here for the complete review

Need more information about this book??

                          Look at  the Table of Contents

                          Look at the first Chapter - Introduction

Front Book cover for Spontaneity in Japanese Art and CultureHere is an Overview from the back cover of the book

There are two major aesthetic traditions in Japan—what might be called a Restrained Tradition and an Exuberant Tradition. In phenonmena as diverse as art, architecture, gardens, clothing, the objects people use, and interior décor, the influence of both traditions can be seen. Instead of competing with each other, the authors view these two traditions as opposite ends of a continuum on which people move back and forth between restraint and exuberance in the course of their daily lives, depending upon the circumstances. This movement is not arbitrary but governed by principles that go to the core of Japanese culture. The goal of this book is to use a socio-scientific approach to provide a better understanding of some of these basic principles, illustrated with more than 200 color photographs.

An important theme throughout the book is that Japan is a highly structured society in which people value but seldom have the opportunity to express spontaneity in art and in everyday life. True spontaneity is achieved only when an art form is totally mastered so that it flows freely without thought. This kind of spontaneity is seen in children's art, folk art, much of the art of Zen Buddhism, or absorption in a hobby, sport, or music. Most of the time, individuals seek escape from the restrictions of everyday life in fantasy, as evidenced by the popularity of manga and the great diversity of after-hours entertainment in Japan. Sometimes, however, they turn to the values incorporated into the concept of shibusa—an important aesthetic concept in Japan.

Shibusa attempts to find a compromise between spontaneity and a high level of taste. Shibui aesthetics, which favor values such as austerity, asymmetry, naturalness, and subdued colors, is toward the restrained end of the Restraint-Exuberance Continuum. At the same time, however, it emphasizes what we have called "spontaneity of effect" — creating an atmosphere that appears to be relaxed an spontaneous, even if it is not truly spontaneous.   We believe that the concept of shibusa is a major contribution of Japan to the world.

 ISBN:  978-0-9881110-1-1

Spontaneity in Japanese Art and Culture
BUY NOW - ONLY $14.95 + S&H

           For Delivery to Canada
           For Delivery to USA

If you do not wish to shop online, you are outside of North America OR to get more information,
contact Joyce Morrison at 1-250-248-5914
between 8:00 and 5:00 pm PST Monday-Friday or send an e-mail to sales@coastaltidespress.com


Other books by David and Michiko Young are The Art of the Japanese Garden and The Art of Japanese Architecture.

These books have recently been republished in 2015 in soft covers and are available through Amazon.com
- click on the links to learn more about these books.

Book cover The Art of the Japanese GardensBook cover the Art of Japanese Architecture

Click on the photo to see more information on these books.

For photographs and information on Japanese gardens, architecture, folk art, the aesthetics of everyday life in Japan, and other topics, please go to www.JapaneseAesthetics.com.

To read our Terms and Conditions/Privacy Policy
Click Here

Back to Top

Back to Home Page