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The Artistic Heart of Japan

From the simple to the sublime...

Art and craft are melded with heart in popular Japanese culture. Our visit was limited to the rural areas of the countryside, and we saw a wide range of art and craftsmanship -- the physical side of the artistic heart. The materials that stood out for their mastery in artistic expression were paper, wood and clay. And these materials were coupled with natural forms -- boulders, water, and wildlife.

City bird - Japan Many cities have a designated official bird, flower and tree. They are included on the welcome signs as one enters the central city. This pheasant-like bird feeds on the many rice paddies in the area.

These deeply etched glass doors to the Museum of Tools are good examples of the sensitivity to nature that is part of everyday life and so much of the arts in this rural area of West-Central Japan. Simplicity and diversity are both honored in the flowing design.

Even the simplest and most humble of functional crafts are touched with elegant design. These rain downspouts are formed to slow the water, and offer a roof-to-ground sculptural waterfall during a downpour.

Even light posts were graced with touches of art...the revered crane was part of the town's street lights.

Manhole covers are coveted design assignments and attract the artistic efforts of famous artists. Each city creates a unique manhole cover design to grace their streets. People do a lot of walking and biking in these cities, and they are welcomed to the world of art through such everyday touches of grace and beauty.
I was transfixed by the creative signage for businesses, streets and general streetside communications. This sign features contrasting materials -- rough boulder, cradling a highly polished and geometric element. Similar contrasting signs made use of rough rocks, or carefully hewn wood.

Photos: Copyright 2005-2006 Carolyn Allen. All rights reserved. You are welcome to link to these articles.

For more articles about ENJOYING NATURE

Botanical Garden Links
California Poppy Reserve
The Botanical Garden and Montreal Insectarium
America's Ecosystems
California Poppy Reserve
California Agritourism

For more articles about URBAN NATURE

Urban Agriculture for Outdoor Adventure
Earth's Most Successful Life Form
Kudzu Grows a Foot per Day
Meow How? Should I keep my cat indoors?
Habitat on Your Balcony and Garden Patio
Keeping ants in nature where they belong