Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts
Elegant representations of nature and the four seasons populate a wide range of Japanese genres and media. In "Japan and the Culture of the Four ... Show synopsis Elegant representations of nature and the four seasons populate a wide range of Japanese genres and media. In "Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons," Haruo Shirane shows how, when, and why this practice developed and explicates the richly encoded social, religious, and political meanings of this imagery. Shirane discusses a wide array of representations of nature in the Japanese arts: textual (poetry, chronicles, tales), cultivated (gardens, flower arrangement), material (kimonos, screens), performative (noh, festivals), and gastronomic (tea ceremony, food rituals). He reveals how this kind of "secondary nature," which flourished in Japan's urban environment, fostered and idealized a sense of harmony with the natural world just at the moment when nature began to recede from view. Illuminating the deeper meaning behind Japanese aesthetics and artifacts, Shirane also clarifies the use of natural and seasonal topics and the changes in their cultural associations and functions across history, genre, and community over more than a millennium. In this fascinating book, the four seasons are revealed to be as much a cultural construction as a reflection of the physical world.