ART. THE ASUKA PERIOD
The spread of Chinese culture in Japan took place in the Asuka period (552-645), especially through Buddhism, and the contribution of this figurative civilization of Asia immediately substantiated Japanese Buddhist sculpture with a series of masterpieces of its iconographic modules (gilt bronze group of the Triad of Sākyamuni, Nara, Hōryū-ji, Kondō; the Four Guardian Kings, Shitennō, in polychrome and gilded wood, Nara, Hōryū-ji, Kondō; the wooden images of Miroku Bosatsu, Kyōto, Kōryu-ji; Nara, Chūgū-ji). Stylistically, the imposing statue of Kudara-Kannon occupies a place of its own, whose name (Kudara) reveals the Korean matrix (Nara, Hōryū-ji). Asuka painting also reached a very high level, albeit documented in the only evidence of the embroidered fragment of Tenjukoku tapestry (Nara, Chūgū-ji) and of the paintings that decorate the small shrine-shrine Tamamushi-no-zushi (Nara, Hōryū-ji, Kondō). Almost nothing is left of Asuka architecture, informed by the new architectural criteria introduced by China, but the Hōryū-ji complex, near Nara, which is the oldest wooden architecture, is enough to understand the informative concept that presided over the principles of these constructions and the infinite possibilities of structural solutions and aesthetic achievements allowed by the use and exploitation of wood in the most unpredictable applications. Built at the beginning of the century. VII, within the enclosure of its rectangular cloister (hōrō) with a protruding portico, there are, in perfect symmetry on a line perpendicular to the NS axis, the pagoda with five decreasing floors (tō) and the “Sala d ‘); at the bottom, with respect to the central door (chūmon), there is a building for reading the sacred texts (Kōdō), flanked on the sides by two smaller buildings, respectively “Hall of scriptures” (Kyōzō) and “Hall of the bell” (Shōrō). Destroyed in a fire around 670, the temple was then rebuilt at the beginning of the century. VIII with some variations and additions (the small octagonal pavilion or “Hall of dreams”, Yumedono), as well as embellishments (murals in the Kondō, stylistically linked to Chinese tomb paintings) made between the two eras Hakuhō (646-710) and Tempyō (710-94) of the Nara period, in which the results of the architectural tradition established in the premises are defined in the context of Chinese architecture of the Asuka period. Check pharmacylib for Tokyo of Japan.
CINEMA. FROM THE CRISIS OF THE SEVENTIES TO INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS
In the 1970s, an extremely serious crisis in cinema took place in Japan; the major directors have been forced to choose between unemployment and television. Few titles emerge, such as Yoshida’s Martial Law (1973), Tadashi Imai’s Takiji Kobayashi (1975) (1912-1991), Shindō’s The Lonely Ballad of Chikuzan (1978), and the feminist film The Distant Road by Sachiko Hidari, formerly actress of the Insect Woman, presented in Berlin in 1978. Three sectors prevail: the underground, with Katsu Kanai’s grotesque-surreal poems, satirical animation, following the example of the lightning-fast Yoji Kuri, and the militant cinema of the Ogawa collective. It is not surprising, therefore, if Kurosawa and Ōshima, to continue the business, have resorted to foreign help: the transgressive Ōshima to French capitals for the erotic Empire of the senses (1976) and to English ones for Furyō, presented in Cannes in 1983; Kurosawa turned to the USSR for Dersu Uzala (1975), to the USA for Kagemusha (1980), two highly regarded and award-winning works, followed by Ran, inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear in 1990, in 1985. August rhapsody and in 1993 Madadayo. Other directors include Shōei Imamura, author of La vendetta è mia (1979), The Ballad of Narayama, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1983, and L’anguilla (1997), again Palme d’Or. On the other hand, it should be noted, in the second half of the Eighties, the progressive invasion of Hollywood by Japanese capital, a fact that became sensationally evident with the purchase of Columbia made by Sony. On the contrary, the artistic contribution made by Japan to cinema in the same years was disappointing: between genre films and films destined for the domestic market (which is strongly dominated by foreign cinemas), internationally few directors have emerged; in particular we mention Juzo Itami (The Actress, 1987; Tampopo, 1988) and Kei Kumai (Death of a tea master, 1988). In the nineties, if only from the point of view of artistic interest, the situation seemed to change not so much in the so-called auteur cinema, in crisis as in most of the international scene, but in the reappropriation in a personal way of genres and commercial strands. In the field of animation, two original filmmakers with science fiction products and definitely aimed at an adult audience have established themselves, Katsuhiro Otomo with Akira (1989), then author of a horror comedy with actors in flesh and blood, World Apartment Horror (1991 ), and Mamoru Oshii with Ghost in the Shell (1995). Tsukamoto Shin ‘ Tetsuo II (1991), before making the hardest action thriller with Tokio Fist (1995).
Where, however, the Japanese scene seemed to liven up at its best is in thrillers and detective stories, perhaps due to the competition with the nearby and “intrusive” Hong Kong. Takeshi Kitano immediately appeared as the head of the school with a violent policeman (1989) and Sonatine (1993), although we must not forget his disgressions in other sectors such as in the case of Kids Returns (1996), Hana-Bi (1997), which has won the Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Film Festival and Zatoichi (2003), a real mix of genres. In his wake, Ishii Takashi (Until his death, 1992; Gonin, 1995; Gonin 2, 1996) and Aoyama Shinji (Helpless, 1996; Yurîka, 2000), while Kenchi Iwamoto (Kikuchi, 1990) and Shinozaki Makoto (Okaeri, 1995; Wasurerarenu hitobito, 2000) appear more fond of the psychological-sentimental portrait. Even more related to poetic drama-elegiac the distant past finally look promising authors like Shunji Iwai (Love Letter, 1995; Coda swallow-Yen Town, 1996; Riri Shu Shu no Subete, 2001) and Ketu Tetsu (bamboo Canto, 1993). At the end of the nineties and after a long silence, Ōshima returns to directing with Tabù – Gohatto (1999), a story interpreted by Takeshi Kitano that deals with the theme of homosexuality within a nineteenth-century samurai academy. These are also the years of Hideo Nakata (b.1961), a director who establishes himself on the international scene with the horror films Ringu (1998), Ringu 2 (1999) and Dark Water (2002). The 2000s are characterized by the continuity of the success of animated films: Hayao Miyazaki, after some films in the 1990s (Porco Rosso, 1992; Princess Mononoke, 1997), in 2001 he shoots The enchanted city, awarded with the Oscar; from 2004 are Godzilla: Final Wars, by Ryuhei Kitamura, and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, an appreciated sequel also directed by Oshii. On other fronts, the production of Satoshi Kon also stands out, of which the following films are remembered: Milennium Actress (2001), Tōkyō Godfathers (2003) and Paprika (2006).