Zen in Japanese Culture: A Visual Journey through Art, Design, and Life (Hardcover)

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A visual journey through Zen’s influence on Japanese life, from calligraphy to the martial arts


Formed by a convergence of the Buddha’s teachings with Taoism and local tradition, Zen has had a profound impact on the art and culture of Japan. As a philosophy, Zen promotes a recognition of emptiness and impermanence. As an aesthetic, it is marked by striking simplicity and a reverence for space. It operates on the principle of wabi-sabi, the harmony found in all things transient and imperfect. Countless Japanese artists, artisans, and designers have engaged with the Zen tradition, their work the fruit of its wisdom.


Author Gavin Blair has spent nearly two decades as a writer and journalist in Japan. In these pages, he shows how Zen has found expression in all aspects of Japanese culture, be it the tea ceremony, origami, or bonsai. Gorgeous full-color photographs highlight the simple beauty of the Zen aesthetic, from the hanging noren curtains that adorn entrances and doorways, to the intricate craftwork of a wagasa umbrella. Together these images speak to the quiet power of Zen.


Above all, Zen is an invitation to contemplate the mind, to cultivate harmony with nature and ease through understanding. This book is for any reader who is curious about Japanese culture and the Zen tradition.

About the Author

Gavin Blair has been reporting on Japan since the turn of the millennium. His work on Japanese culture, economics, politics, crime, and sports has appeared in outlets around the globe, including the Christian Science Monitor, the Hollywood Reporter, and France 24 TV.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780789213457
ISBN-10: 0789213451
Publisher: Abbeville Press
Publication Date: September 10th, 2019
Pages: 208
Language: English