The Metropolises and the Prosperities within — Tokyo and Beijing in the 18th Century
August 14, 2018- October 7, 2018 Time: 9:00—17:00 (closed on Mondays) Venue: Room A, B1


Section Three


Art and culture in Edo


Tokyo was known as Edo Castle in the 18th century, the political stability and the successful business activities, during this period of time, assured its people a wealthy life and the diverse urban cultures. With the focus on the aesthetic aspect from the aristocrats or the samurai class, the craftsmanship in artistic and cultural works, including calligraphies, paintings, sculptures, lacquer wares, and textiles, progressed to a much higher standard. It was a time that saw not only a legacy of a far-reaching and profound impact on contemporary Japanese art and culture, but also the traditional techniques and craftsmanship in Japanese folk arts which were blending with the essence of foreign artisanship.


Due to various problems and difficulties in trade with China by the end of the Ming dynasty, and the increased market demands in ceramic products from the western world, the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC, established in 1602) started to substitute Chinese ceramic wares for the Japanese ones. The change accelerated the development of the porcelain industry in Japan. Japanese porcelain, a combination of Chinese patterns and Japanese designs, was very much favored by the European aristocracies. Meanwhile, in Japan, lacquer wares were popular items in daily life. They were made as decorations on architecture, furniture, ornaments and gifts. Ukiyo-e is a unique genre of Japanese art, however, the idea of Western realism was widely applied in Ukiyo-e by the Japanese artists to illustrate stories of urban life in the new capital, Edo. As a popular art form among ordinary people, Ukiyo-e works played a part in advocating the humanist values of Japan. The city of Edo had been kept vibrant and alive by all the wonderful and amazing cultures and arts, and the people who created them.


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