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Culture

The pursuit of harmony, beauty and tight simplicity characterizes many of Japan's cultural expressions. Traditional gardens and homes will radiate these properties throughout their structure. In the classic Japanese room, the colors are few and studied in unison and the furniture is sparse. The art of arranging flowers, ikebana, also strives for harmony. While the West looks more at the beauty and variety of flowers, the Japanese emphasize their line play and symbolism. In a modern western-influenced variant, the moribath, miniatures are created to give the impression of landscapes or gardens.

Equally distinctive is the tea ceremony, chanoyu, a sophisticated millennial ritual around the art of preparing, serving and drinking green tea. Led by a master, chanoyu will provide an aesthetic experience of both the beverage, the room, the aids and the decor.

  • Countryaah: Latest population statistics of Japan, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.

Many of Japan's traditional musical instruments have come from China. Among the most famous are koto, which resembles a citrus, the bamboo flute shakuhachi and the three-stringed, banjo-like shamis. Throughout the centuries, folk music and influences from the outside have been mixed, and after World War II, Western music has become increasingly resonant. Japan has about twenty professional symphony orchestras, and musicians such as the conductor Seiji Ozawa and pianist Mitsuko Uchida have the whole world as a workplace.

The ubiquitous Japanese pop music (J-pop) has been developed with influences from Western pop. The music is often interwoven with vibrant visual presentation. There are countless Japanese pop artists such as Ayumi Hamasaki, Kumi Koda and Hikari Kutada.

  • Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Japan. Artists and albums are also included.

Culture of JapanDuring the first heyday of Japanese literature a thousand years ago, masterpieces such as The Story of Genji and the Essay Collection Notes at the Pillow were created, two courtiers' depictions of life in the aristocracy of that time. The novel about the Emperor Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu (c. 978 – c. 1016), is still considered today as one of the great works of world literature. At the same time, the classic verse form was born - 31 syllables in five rows - still in use.

In the Middle Ages, samurai novels and Buddhist embossed stories were added. From the poetry system waka, both the chain poem form was developed purely, with several authors, and the concentrated poem form that for many symbolizes Japanese poetry: haiku, a three-poem poem in 17 syllables following the pattern 5-7-5. Matsuo Basho brought haikun to heights in the 17th century that today's poets also strive for. Tanka and haiku are so popular that the daily press has special columns for them.

During the military regime of the 1930s and up to 1945, "Japanese" literature was burned, but after the war the literary supply has been the richer. In 1968, Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972), author of, among other things, the Snow Kingdom, became the first Japanese to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Other great late writers are Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe (Nobel Prize 1994), avant-garde artist Kobo Abe and Haruki Murakami, widely read also in the West.

A link between literature, book art and visual arts are the famous color woodcuts, which have greatly influenced art in Europe. In the case of porcelain and ceramics, too, Japan has been superior to the West in design and quality.

Japan's oldest preserved theater form is no, which sheds all unnecessary decoration and has a single protagonist. Easier for the accustomed is the colorful Kabuki Theater, where all roles are played by men, and the puppet theater bunraku. Today's cartoon and textual culture includes the cartoon series, manga, which are also read by adults. A Japanese comic book is often several hundred pages thick and has a storytelling technique similar to that of the film.

Japanese pop culture in the wider sense is a phenomenon that has gained many followers in other countries. It is characterized by manga series, animated films and a variety of subcultures, for example, role-plays with imaginative costumes that are often inspired by different manga characters.

Japan also has extensive film production, and among the major filmmakers who have achieved international fame include Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. In recent years, director Hirokazu Koreeda and animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away With Several) have received attention.

Unmistakable expressions of Japanese culture also exist in the world of sports, especially when national sports sumo wrestling and martial arts such as judo and karate.

2015

December

Historical settlement of six slaves

Japan and South Korea conclude a historic settlement that countries hope to resolve the protracted conflict over how Japan can make it possible for Korean women and girls to be used as sex slaves by Japanese soldiers during World War II. In 1993, Japan acknowledged that the women were exploited but no apology was delivered. According to the new settlement, Japan agrees to a demand from South Korea and promises to establish a 1 billion yen fund (US $ 8.3 million) on behalf of women. Prime Minister Abe also apologizes, saying that Japan has a "deep responsibility" for women's fate. South Korea announces that the issue will be considered definitively resolved if Japan lives up to its promises.

September

Controversial legislative changes are adopted

Parliament's upper house adopts the controversial legislative changes that allow Japanese troops to be deployed in combat abroad. Despite the opposition's attempts to block a vote in various ways, the proposals were voted through with 148 votes in favor and 90 against.

August

Abe thanks no to military parade

Japan's Prime Minister Abe refuses the invitation from China to participate in the country's military parade in early September as a result of the end of the Second World War.

Nuclear power plants start again

The first nuclear power plant in the country is restarted after the long break after the Fukushima disaster (see March 2011). A reactor is set to start in Sendai, after the plant has undergone extensive new safety tests. Demonstrations are ongoing outside the Sendai plant and outside Prime Minister Abe's residence in Tokyo. 25 nuclear power plants have applied to start operations again.

July

Controversial legislative changes

Parliament's lower house adopts two legislative amendments that make it possible for the first time since World War II to deploy Japanese troops in combat abroad (Compare June 2014). The law changes are very controversial. According to opinion polls, over half of the Japanese are against them, and opposition members are leaving the parliament in protest before the vote. The amendments now go to Parliament's upper house where they will be considered within 60 days.

April

Japan and the United States agree on new guidelines

The US and Japan are adopting new guidelines for their defense cooperation. The guidelines allow for greater cooperation between the countries and open up for more active Japanese participation. They reflect both Prime Minister Abe's desire to abandon the strict focus on self-defense in the country's defense policy and the perceived threat from China in the region.

March

Japan and China in summit

Japan and China hold a high-level meeting on security issues. It is the first meeting to be held since 2011. Among other things, we discuss how direct communication between the countries' military can be improved with regard to the dispute over islands in the East China Sea.

February

The Crown Prince comments on historical writing

Crown Prince Naruhito says it is important to remember the Second World War "properly". The statement is seen as a post in a debate that has erupted since Prime Minister Abe suggested that Japan's war history should be described in a less humiliating way for the country.

Minister of Agriculture resigns

Agriculture Minister Koya Hishikawa resigns after admitting he has received illegal financial aid from a company. He is the first minister to leave Prime Minister Abe's new government.

January

IS requires ransom

The extremist Islamist movement IS demanding $ 200 million as ransom to release two Japanese citizens captured by the movement. At the end of January and the beginning of February, video films are released at intervals of one week, which are reported to show that both Japanese were beheaded.

DPJ selects new leader

DPJ chooses Kutsuya Okada as new leader. He is a 61-year veteran of the party who has held several government posts.

 

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