Part of a long archipelago off the eastern rim of the Asian continent, the island country of Japan has four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

Japan

Part of a long archipelago off the eastern rim of the Asian continent, the island country of Japan has four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.
Introduction to Japan
Shinto
An introduction to Shinto, one of Japan's earliest belief systems. 
Female Shinto spirit
Buddhism in Japan
Ancient temples of Nara Japan
Learn about the Buddhist art and architecture of Nara, Japan.
Standing Brahma and standing Indra
Brahma and Indra, or Bonten and Taishakuten as they are known in Japanese, were Hindu deities brought into Buddhism as attendants of the Buddha or of bodhisattvas. The Asian Art Museum's Bonten and Taishakuten are the only large-scale, matched Japanese hollow dry lacquer sculptures from the Nara period in a U.S. collection. Even in Japan, sculptures like these are extremely rare and most have been designated as National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. Learn more about the Hindu deity Brahma.
The Buddhist guardian deity: Fudo Myoo
Fudo Myoo (the Immovable One) is one of the powerful deities known as the Five Bright Kings in Japanese Buddhism and folk religion. As a manifestation of the central cosmic Buddha Mahavairochana (Japanese: Dainichi), Fudo is believed to protect Buddhism and its true adherents. Like all Bright Kings, Fudo assumes a frightening form, with a sword in his right hand and a rope in his left. He sits in front of a swiring flame of fire, with which he purifies evil. Learn more about Fudo Myoo.
A guardian king
The Way of Tea
Discover the rich history of the Japanese tea gathering. Learn more about Chanoyu: The Japanese Art of Tea.
Tea bowl with dragon roundels
Tea bowl with standing crane design (gohon tachizuru)
Incense container with design of plovers
Fresh water jar
An introduction to the Samurai
Dog chasing
Archery practice
Military camp jacket
Tale of the Heike
Learn about the famous samurai story, the Tale of the Heike and hear an excerpt from the tale. This video include artworks from the Asian Art Museum's collection. Learn more about the Tale of the Heike.
Haniwa in the form of a warrior
A brief history of samurai armor
Learn about samurai armor by exploring artworks in the Asian Art Museum's collection. Learn more about samurai armor on the Asian Art Museum's education website.
Samurai armor
Helmet with half-face mask
Military leader's fan
Arrival of a Portuguese ship
Short sword (wakizashi) and long sword (katana)
Matchlock gun and pistol
From castle to palace: samurai architecture
Japan's warlords built fortresses during the constant civil warfare from 1300 to 1600. These castles housed the local government, had many defensive devices, and impressed rivals with their scale and their lord's ability to have them built and maintained. Learn more about the samurai.
The Floating World of Edo Japan
Fire procession costume
The evolution of ukiyo-e and woodblock prints
Street scene in the pleasure quarter of Edo Japan
Discover the cast of characters in a woodblock print of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter in Edo Japan (present-day Tokyo).
Courtesans of the South Station
Scholars Melinda Takeuchi and Timon Screech discuss a woodblock print of courtesans in an unlicensed pleasure quarter during the Edo period (1615–1868) in Japan.
Courtesan playing with a cat
Laura Allen, Curator of Japanese Art at the Asian Art Museum discusses a monochrome woodblock print of a courtesan playing with a cat from the Grabhorn collection.
Hunting for fireflies
Melinda Takeuchi, Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Art History at Stanford University, discusses the coded meanings behind a woodblock print in the Asian Art Museum's collection.
An introduction to Kabuki theater
The actor Ichikawa Danzo IV in a Shibaraku role
Kabuki scholar Laurence Kominz and Melinda Takeuchi, Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Art History at Stanford University, discuss a woodblock print of the Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danzo IV.
Genji Ukifune
Kabuki scholar Laurence Kominz discusses a woodblock print of a Kabuki actor and courtesan depicted in a scene from the famous Japanese epic The Tale of Genji.
Scenes from The Tale of Genji
An American ship
How Japan Inspired Monet, Van Gogh, and Other Western Artists
When Japan opened its port to international trade in the 1850s and emerged from centuries of self-imposed isolation, Japanese prints, albums and objects arrived in Europe and North America in unprecedented quantities. In the frenzy of collecting and admiration that followed, Japanese art caught the eye of designers and artists seeking fresh solutions to artistic problems. This video explores the shared artistic devices in Japanese and Western artworks of the time.
The steamship Powhatan