For some enjoyable lockdown escapism, and to learn about Japanese culture in the sense of its visual arts and history, then wow your Japanese colleagues with your knowledge, I recommend:
Monuments to Impermanence: New Inspirations From Ancient Japanese Stone Circles and Burial Mounds
The ancient preliterate inhabitants of the Japanese archipelago marked the passing of time through the creation of monuments, including Jōmon stone circles and massive burial mounds. Archaeologist and Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia Simon Kaner addresses how the preservation of these ruins speaks to an aesthetic of impermanence in a lecture and conversation with Adriana Proser, John H. Foster Senior Curator for Traditional Asian Art and curator of The Art of Impermanence.
Look out for Prof Kaner waving around extraordinarily elaborate Jōmon figurines and flamepots (could they really be used for cooking – or mixing Manhattans as he suggests?)
You can view this (1hr., 10 min video) lecture on Asia Society’s website.
Words Spun Out of Images: Visual and Literary Culture in Nineteenth Century Japan
Emeritus Professor at Tokyo University Robert Campbell has a lovely gentle manner and soothing voice delivering this online course on Coursera with great visuals on how Japan mixed visual imagery and literary texts. You can do all the modules and tests for free, but you may well end up paying the £37 to get a certificate on LinkedIn because you feel so pleased with yourself for passing and completing the course – I know I did.
“In their ambition to capture “real life,” Japanese painters, poets, novelists and photographers of the nineteenth century collaborated in ways seldom explored by their European contemporaries. This course offers learners the chance to encounter and appreciate behavior, moral standards and some of the material conditions surrounding Japanese artists in the nineteenth century, in order to renew our assumptions about what artistic “realism” is and what it meant.
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