Articles related to Zen arts and culture

The origins of Zen arts and culture, such as ikebana (flower arrangement), kare-sansui (Zen rock garden) and Nou (Japanese traditional theatre) are found in the Middle Ages.  More than 500 years since its foundation, the beauty of Zen arts are still powerful and uniquely inspirational.  There are various contemporary arts that are deeply influenced by Zen philosophy and aesthetics.

Experience the sukiya-zukuri: Setouchi Minato no Yado

Japanese residential architecture has changed significantly over a couple of centuries, reflecting the drastic social transformation in Japan (modernization and ...
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Chapter 3-2: Bonsai – the art of condensation

Bonsai is the Japanese traditional art of growing plants in pots which is often dubbed “the art of microcosm” because ...
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Chapter 3-4: Tai’an – Rikyu’s microcosmic teahouse

Images above  Left: Tai-an at Myoki-an, Kyoto  Right: Bamboo vase "Onkyoku" believed to have been made by Rikyu In the ...
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Chapter 4: Abundance by absence

In Chapter 1-3, we discussed the "power of zero" and its manifestation through the act of "subtraction (Chapter 2)" and ...
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Chapter 4-2: Absence on senses

The almost empty kare-sansui garden at Ryoan-ji was so mysteriously abstract and beautiful that it inspired many artists from various ...
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Chapter 2: Abundance by subtraction

One of the most commonly seen “zero” concepts in Zen-influenced art and design is subtraction. There is a Japanese phrase, ...
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Chapter 2-2: Ikebana – the art of subtraction

The current form of ikebana (the traditional art of Japanese flower arrangement) cemented its reputation in the 15th century when ...
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Chapter 2-3: Haiku – the beauty of worlds’ shortest poem

The aesthetics of subtraction can also be found in the haiku, the world’s shortest form of poem. The haiku uses ...
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Chapter 2-4: Effect of subtraction on your satisfaction

What does subtraction really do to us? Imagine the situation where you receive satisfaction from an external stimulus. In this ...
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Chapter 1-7: Discovery of zero = abundance

And, by the way, this is not a new experiment at all. For thousands of years, our ancestors have been ...
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Chapter 1-10: Zazen – empty your body and mind for mind-FULL-ness

We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the tomatoes to understand what happens when we internalize the power ...
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“Simplify!” Steve Jobs’ relentless quest for Zen design

It is well known that Steve Jobs practiced Zen. It influenced his design philosophy and is reflected in Apple's minimalist, ...
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Tofukuji kare-sansui by Mirei Shigemori

Mirei Shigemori (重森三玲) was born in 1896 in Okayama, Japan. After studying and practicing ikebana (the traditional Japanese art of ...
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1000 year-old amusement park: Saiho-ji (koke dera)

If an amusement park is designed to let “another world” emerge – a world of dream/fantasy in which you can ...
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Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu)

Katsura Rikyu (Katsura Imperial Villa) is often considered as the culmination of Japanese traditional architecture.  It was built as a ...
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Kengo Kuma: Our cities need to “ferment”

In his book “自然な建築: Natural Architecture“ (Iwanami Publishing, 2008),  Kuma describes the worlds’ perception towards Japanese architecture.  “Having worked and ...
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Kintsugi: Repair beyond repair

Have you ever tried to fix or repair broken items? If so, why did you do that? If you think ...
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Minimalist Ukiyo-e & paints by Hokusai

Hokusai is widely known for his ukiyo-e piece “Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” which heavily influenced French Impressionists.  His bold composition ...
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Kenya Hara and the aesthetics of “emptiness”

Japanese design is often associated with the simple and minimal. Top left: The Butterfly Stool by Sori Yanagi, Top Right: ...
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Kare-sansui (Japanese Zen rock garden): ultimate beauty of absence

Gardens have been an essential part of every civilization. From the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” to Singapore’s “Garden by the ...
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Bonsai: condensation of nature for your palm

Bonsai is unique among Zen-inspired arts because it has somehow maintained its position as ordinary people's hobby. It doesn't have ...
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Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement): Define ultimate essentials by subtraction

Flowers have always been playing important roles in Japanese culture. Ancient Japanese thought that flowers represented the power of living ...
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