bakufu: warrior government
byobu: a folding screen made of paper or silk covering a wooden, hinged frame,
Chanoyu: Japanese tea ceremony, the ritualized preparation and drinking of macha (powdered, green tea) in a highly aesthetic environment
chonin: “people of the blocks,” used to refer to merchants and artisans who lived in urban areas
daimyo: regional warrior leaders who ruled autonomously over the various regions of Japan
enso: in Zen painting, a circle painted with a brush and ink as an act of meditation; often accompanied by a poem or Zen parable, the enso has infinite meanings, has been called “the all, the void, and enlightenment
Kabuki: among all the Japanese theatrical arts (Noh, Bunraku, Kabuki), it is the most popular form, featuring beautiful costumes and elaborate sets. The plots deal with historical events, morality tales, and ghost stories. Kabuki actors were revered like modern-day Hollywood stars
kami: nature spirits that exists in all things living or not, basis of the Shinto religion, which is native to Japan
kana script: Japanese alphabet system, or syllabary
kanga: “Chinese painting” or more accurately, Chinese-style painting by Japanese artists, particularly associated with Kano painters of the 15th–19th centuries
Kano school: painting school that primarily served the samurai class; bold designs of powerful animals and symbolic plants and trees; associated with kanga or “Chinese painting” style, although blended the expressive brushwork of kanga with the brilliant colors and gold prevalent in native Japanese painting style.
literati painter: also known as a Nanga artist or Bunjinga (literati painter); an artist who studied Chinese texts and paintings and adapted Chinese style in their work
mon: a family crest used to design clothing, banners, luggage etc.
mono no aware: a pathos for the fleeting moments of beauty, joy, even heartbreak that are part of being human; often used to describe literature, particularly The Tale of Genji
Nanga (southern painting) or Bunjinga (scholar or literati painting): modeled on Chinese Ming dynasty artist/theorist’s conception of southern painting, which was freely executed and expressive by scholar-amateur artists; Japanese literati artists often doubled as poets, tea masters, raconteurs, as well as painters; most associated with Kyoto and Osaka
Neo-Confucian: the prefix “neo” is used because Confucian ideology was revived and reframed by Chinese scholars in Song dynasty China; refers to a new set of ideas about human relations and governance that were expanded from Confucius’ original teachings
Rangaku: “Dutch Learning” referring to the study of Western ideas
Rinpa (or Rimpa) school: merchant class artists from Kyoto who revived courtly aesthetics and themes; known for brilliantly colored paintings and lavish use of gold on every format imaginable; compositions often accentuate the flatness of the painting surface and emphasize pattern and design
roji: “dewy path;” garden path, usually made of stepping stones, leading to a tea house; an important place to mark transition from worlds outside and inside the tea room
Sengoku period: “country at war,” a civil war that plagued Japan from 1467–1568 sumptuary laws: regulations that restrict the owning of luxury goods
Shinto: “the way of the gods,” the native Japanese religion based on agrarian concerns, which reveres spirits that dwell in natural phenomena, such as rocks, water, trees, and mountains. Shinto beliefs are still practiced, featuring prominently in marriage rites and the plethora of annual festivals and parades in modern Japan.
Shogun: supreme military leader
Shogunate: government of the Shogun, also called bakufu
tatami mat: thick straw mats measuring about three by six feet, finished with woven grass; the traditional floor covering in Japan
tokonoma: raised alcove in a traditional room used for the display of paintings and flowers
Tokugawa: the name of the ruling Shogun family that was in power during the Edo period
Tosa school: Kyoto painting academy for the imperial family and nobility; took classical Japanese literature as subjects; developed a refined painting style called yamato-e (pictures of Yamato—an old fashioned name for Japan)
Wabi: often translated as “rustic;” the aesthetic values for imperfection, austerity, simple beauty, and old objects that show their wear.
waka: a 36-syllable poem
yamato-e: “pictures of Yamato;” Yamato is an old fashioned name for Japan, therefore yamato-e is considered a purely Japanese painting style, consciously distinguished from kanga