Japanese Language Blog

Traditional Japanese Arts Posted by on Sep 9, 2011 in Culture

If you’re ever in the mood to pick up a new hobby, what not try making a hobby out of a traditional Japanese art? There are many varieties of traditional Japanese art, but probably one of the most famous is Ikebana (生け花), which is an artform that involves flower arrangement. There are many styles of Japanese flower arrangement, with some being very minimal-looking in appearance. Ikebana is a wonderful way to hone your creativity in a disciplined artform!

If you want to try your creative side on a grander scale, then you might be interested in dabbling in Nihon Teien (日本庭園) or ‘Japanese Gardens’. Constructing a Japanese garden takes a lot of time and financial investment, so if this isn’t a suitable venture to take on as a hobby, you might like to try looking into bonsai (盆栽) trees. Bonsai is a miniature tree that has been carefully arranged to fit certain a proportion and harmonious balance.


In many ways chadō (茶道) or what we call ‘tea ceremony’ is a ritualized art of drinking and making tea. Learning chadō is considered a high artform. Performing chadō includes following rules of etiquette and being consciously mindful of the many steps and movements in carrying out a tea ceremony. Chadō is a long standing tradtional Japanese artform that is really a niche in itself. It’s where you learn to make tea with various instruments in a orderly and sequential manner.

In addition to learning Japanese tea ceremony, it can also be fun to learn the art of making a type of bowl called Hagiware or hagiyaki (萩焼). Making these bowls takes skill and time. It may take many years to truly master the art of making hagi. Many of the hagi are used as tea bowls in tea ceremony, so these two artforms go hand in hand. Hagiware is deceptively simple in appearance, but great pains are made to make them look graceful, functional and elegant.

If you’re creative in the more intellectual arena, then why not try the art of writing a Haiku (俳句)? Although Haikus look simple in appearance (17 moraes total), they are hard to construct because you are limited to using 17 morae (morae of sort of like syllables, but not quite). The ideal Haiku will be deep in meaning but yet slightly ambiguous in meaning. That’s hard to do, considering the constraints of writing a Haiku!

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