Delicacy and exquisiteness of form, together with simplicity, characterize traditional Japanese artistic taste. The Japanese tend to view the traditional Chinese arts generally as being too grandiose or showy. The more recently introduced Western arts are felt to suffer from flaws of exuberant self-realization at the expense of earnest exploration of the conflicts in human relations, in particular the notions of divided loyalties between community, family, and self that create the bittersweet melancholy so pervasive in Japanese traditional drama.
The highly refined traditional arts of Japan include ikebana (flower arranging), the tea ceremony, painting, calligraphy, woodblock printing, dance, music, theatrical plays (including such forms of drama as kabuki, a highly stylized form of drama characterized by singing and dancing; bunraku, the puppet theatre; nō, the classic form of dance-drama), and gagaku (court music), gardening, and architecture. Such arts as ikebana, the tea ceremony, and calligraphy are studied and practiced by a great many Japanese.
Ikebana and the tea ceremony, in particular, are popular among young unmarried women, since these are regarded as appropriate cultural or aesthetic accomplishments for future housewives. Traditional Japanese painting, dance, and music have, however, lost much of their traditional popularity, though the poetic forms of haiku and waka continue to flourish. Traditional handicrafts constitute some of Japan’s finest examples of visual arts. Notable are the various styles of pottery, lacquerwork, cloisonné, and bamboo ware, as well as papermaking, silk weaving, and cloth dyeing. With the advance of modernization, many folk traditions and forms of folklore are disappearing. The widespread use of standard Japanese has accelerated this trend, since local cultures are directly related to dialects.
Folk songs, for example, are generally no longer commonly sung except in some remote areas in northern and southwestern Japan. Folk music and dance are related to local life and are often significantly concerned with the local religion (whether animistic, Shintō, or Buddhist), agriculture, or human relations (including the theme of love). Some, however, still enjoy a great popularity, which has been increased through the mass media. On informal social occasions, even in the large cities, folk and popular songs are often sung. "Japan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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