In the years after 1867, when Emperor Meiji ascended the throne, Japan was once again invaded by new and alien forms of culture.
The first response of the Japanese was open-hearted acceptance, and in 1876 the Technological Art School was opened, employing Italian instructors to teach Western methods. The second response was a pendulum swing in the opposite direction spearheaded by Okakura Kakuzo and the American Ernest Fenollosa, who encouraged Japanese artists to retain traditional themes and techniques while creating works more in keeping with contemporary taste. Out of these two poles of artistic theory developed Yoga (Western-style painting) and Nihonga (Japanese painting), categories that remain valid to the present day.
The need to rebuild Japan after World War II proved a great stimulus to Japanese architects, and contemporary Japanese buildings rank with the finest in the world in terms of technology and formal conception. The best-known Japanese architect is Kenzo Tange, whose National Gymnasiums (1964) for the Tokyo Olympics emphasizing the contrast and blending of pillars and walls, and with sweeping roofs reminiscent of the tomo-e (an ancient whorl-shaped heraldic symbol) are dramatic statements of form and movement.
Thanks to the BMW Foundation, the WebMuseum mirrors, partners and contributors for their support.