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Article: Getting Inspired by Japanese Culture Design

Getting Inspired by Japanese Culture Design

Want to know how to create projects with Japanese culture design?
Check this exciting information, tips, and great examples you can learn from!
Created by Paiheme Studio |

The Japanese culture design is one of the most well-known and most widely used design styles or themes in the world of design. There are lots of designers who adapt the Japanese style of design into their artwork to produce unique and authentic works.

Japanese design can be seen everywhere, such as film, painting, visual design, and many others. It takes inspiration from Japanese culture, which makes it unique and has its own characteristics. It is also one of the reasons that make Japanese culture one of the most popular cultures in the world.


The Introduction of Japanese Design Culture

Japan's art style adopts many elements since the traditional period. And we all know that the culture has its own visual characteristics. For example, design in Japanese culture usually uses many natural elements and distinctive colors such as white, red, blue, and yellow.

The popularity of the culture is undeniable. Almost everywhere, you can find visual designs with their style as the main concept. This is because this type of design is in great demand by many people from all walks of life, from children, adolescents to adults.

The culture of beauty in Japan can be traced back centuries. Since ancient times, they have upheld art and beauty in their lives.

There are a lot of sculptures, paintings, and other works of art made with the uniqueness of Japanese culture. In fact, this type of design culture is said to be an inspiration for some famous western artists such as Van Gogh.

There are many famous western artists who take inspiration from the unique Japanese cultural design styles. For example, several famous painters were inspired by the simple but minimalist style of Japanese painters' painting. These western painters also followed this style of painting to be used in their artwork.

Source: Wikipedia, by Katsushika Hokusai |


Different Period of Japanese Culture Design

Every art style must have a difference in each period of time, likewise with Japan style design. The distinctive style has been around for centuries. Of course, in this long period of time, it will also evolve according to its era.

Changes that exist can be in the form of drastic changes but can also be minor changes. If we compare, Japanese art style 1000 years ago will certainly be different from the design in our modern times.

To better know and get to know what the differences are from each period of Japan-style design, here is the information we have summarized for you:

1. Edo Period

The Edo period is a period in Japan's history that lasted from the 1600s to the 1800s. This era is also commonly referred to as the Tokugawa era. This era is one of the eras in which art is developing very rapidly in Japan.

At this time, there were many artists who made works of art with striking colors and complex motifs. One of the artworks most often created during this era is a painting or poster depicting the life of Japanese people.

These posters are usually filled with pictures of sumo and theater actors at that time. Thanks to Japan's rapid development, at that time, there were already mass production posters.

In addition, one of the hallmarks of artwork at this time is that many typographies were written by the artists themselves using brushes. Until now, Japan's art style is still often used as inspiration.

In this era, the Ukiyo-e art style emerged. Ukiyo-e is one of the most important art movements in Japanese culture design, especially for entertainment arts. Ukiyo-e is the art of woodblock paintings and prints.

Usually, ukiyo-e features illustrated images of women, landscapes, and also Japanese folk tales. Ukiyo-e is a pioneer of modern illustration such as anime, video games, and mangas.

Source: Auckland Art Gallery, by Kansetsusai Tsukimaro |


2. Meiji Period

The Meiji era was a period in Japan's history that lasted from the 1860s to the 1900s. During the Meiji period, Japan was more open to the arrival of immigrants to their country to trade.

This resulted in a change in the art style in Japan. Previously, most of the works of art contain depictions of its people and landscapes. In the Meiji era, there began to be illustrations of the arrival of traders.

In this Meiji era, most of the illustrations depict the life of the cities, which are filled with traders. There is also an illustration of ships and the sea as a sign of the arrival of traders and people from abroad.

Source: Met Museum, by Toshimasa |


3. After World War 2

From the 1950s until the 1980s, the industrialization sector in Japan developed very rapidly. This growing industrial sector is making the economy strong.

Modernity has also entered into the cultural joints of their life, including art. In this era, Japanese culture design began to use simpler designs with lots of geometric elements.

Even though it is combined with geometric elements, the characteristics of the oriental style are still distinctively recognized. Color selection and typical typography are still often used as a combination of Bauhaus and Constructivism styles which have become one of the main styles in this era.

This art style is often found in modern artworks today. This happens because a simple visual is in great demand by many people. So that many artists and designers take inspiration from the styles from this era.

Source: The Vinyl Factory, by Hiroshi Nagai |


4. Modern Period

From the 1990s until now, when Japan's art style began to be packaged in a modern and minimalist style. In this modern era, they are is famous for their minimalist, unique, and funny designs. Even so, it still adopts traditional Japanese values and elements.

It has now evolved because the entertainment and art trends in the world have changed. And since the emergence of anime and manga as one of the most popular sources of entertainment, Japanese art has been more focused on colorful and cute elements.

However, because the trends of minimalism and neutralism are in great demand by all people in the world, this style is also found in Japan's modern visual style. 

The use of earthy colors and natural tones can be found in various forms of Japanese art. One of the most prominent forms is prints, paintings, and brands.

Source: Reformer, by Yayoi Kusama |


How To Bring Japanese Design in Your Artwork

Actually, there is no definite standard for determining how to do the right way. Japanese culture design has many forms, so it is almost impossible to identify only one style as the only criterion.

Japan's art can be in the form of colorful designs, simple designs, elegant designs, and many other types of designs. But what is clear is that there are some typical characteristics of the style that you can include in your artwork.

Adopting Japanese elements into your artwork can make your artwork even more attractive and unique. For those of you designers who want to add its elements to your design, here are some things and elements that you could include in your artwork:

1.  Minimalism

The trend of minimalism and simple life is trending in Japan. You may know Marie Kondo, who was one of the main pioneers of simplistic and minimalistic life in Japan as well as in the world.

Apart from that, there is also Wabi-Sabi, a view that accepts simplicity and imperfection in all elements of the world. This view and trend of minimalism significantly influence Japanese art. Now, most of the design focuses more on aspects of minimalism.

There are not many elements used in the design, but the design is still aesthetically pleasing. This aspect of minimalism makes designers eliminate unimportant and unnecessary elements in their designs.

The wabi-sabi-themed design is actually similar to modern and contemporary designs that uphold minimalism. However, wabi-sabi also focuses on a design that gives a feeling of calm, warmth, and also welcoming. Wabi-sabi designs usually use calm and soothing elements.

Created by Alphabet Design Agency |


2. Natural Elements

If we look at the traditional Japanese culture design artwork, we will see a lot of natural elements such as landscapes, flowers, trees, birds, and also the ocean. Since ancient times, Japanese society has upheld the natural beauty of nature. This is implemented into their artwork as an appreciation for natural beauty.

Floriography or the study of flowers also influences the culture heavily. Their people are known for their spiritual beliefs. With the existence of floriography, every flower has a symbol and also its own meaning.

This makes flowers often an element that is often included in Japanese culture design artwork. Organic flowers are usually painted in a gentle and elegant manner. The flower that is most often used as inspiration in the design is cherry blossoms.

Japanese natural painting has its own characteristics. The illustrations are made with a distinctive painting style, such as brush and ink.

In addition, natural elements such as wood and stone can also be found in Japanese design artwork.

Created by Canape Agency |


3. Geometry

In Japanese culture, each shape usually has a special meaning and symbol associated with it. Japanese style design also uses a lot of geometric elements as one of the main elements.

In Japanese culture design, geometric elements are usually formed from a collection of lines and shapes. One of the most frequently used shapes is a circle.

The circle itself has a deep meaning for Japanese society. We can see for ourselves in the Japanese flag, and there is only one element, namely the circle shape.

This circle shape is used as the main element in Japanese culture. The circle shape is used as a basic shape and also a reference in design. Many Japanese company logos use a circle as the main element in their logo.

Created by Oliga Padalco |


4. Typography

Japanese characters are one of the unique elements in the world. They are complex characters, much more complex than the western alphabet. This makes Japanese characters something special, and you can include them in your artwork.

Japanese people believe that painting Japanese characters is a special art. In their culture, there are typographers or calligraphers who are devoted to creating artwork in the form of Japanese characters that are painted very beautifully using ink and brushes.

It takes a lot of work to create beautiful Japanese typography, especially using brush style. Because of this exclusion, Japanese typography is often used as a major element in Japanese culture design.

Japanese typography or calligraphy could be the focal element that will make your artwork more unique and different than others.

Created by gaatii 光体 |


5. Anime & Manga

As already mentioned, the anime and manga industry is one of the most famous industries that is seen as the center of Japanese culture. Worldwide anime and manga are changing the trend from traditional illustrations to cheerful, colorful cartoon illustrations.

Anime and manga characters usually have their own distinctive characteristics that are not found in other types of cartoons. Usually, people in anime or manga will be painted with huge eyes and doll faces.

This makes many designs that are created by Japanese people take inspiration from anime styles. Lots of artwork made in anime style. This anime style is usually used to attract the attention of an audience who are still children to adolescents.

Created by Ilustrata Studio |


6. Bright Colours

Although not all, most designs use a lot of bright colors as their color palette. In its culture, bright color plays an important role in an artwork.

Each color usually has its own meaning and symbol. If you want your work to be more special, you can use colors that match the message you want to convey.

In addition, the Harajuku style trend makes the use of bright colors even more trendy. As designers, you don't need to be afraid to use clashing colors. The more colors you use, the more colorful and attractive your artwork will look. But still, pay attention to the use of white space and balance of the artwork so that your work doesn't look overwhelming.

Created by Driv Loo |


7. Brush Stroke Element

The brush stroke is one of the most common elements in Japanese culture design. Since a long time ago, traditional artwork has used brush and ink as their main tools in creating artwork. It makes the work have its own distinctive style.

The distinctive style is still often used today. If you want to create a Japanese-style design that is simple but still attractive, you can use the brush element as the only decorative element.

The brush stroke is sufficient to make your design look more classy and simple. Apart from that, the brush stroke element also makes your artwork look more exclusive and special.

You can also add some ink splatters in addition to supporting the brushstroke style you have chosen in your design.

You can implement this brush stroke style as a style in painting your illustration. If you want to use illustration elements in your artwork, paint the illustration with a brush-style to make it look more interesting.

Or you can also add an abstract brush stroke element to make it look even cooler. Combine brush strokes with Japanese colors like black, white, or red.

Created by Braichild Creative |


8. Kawaii Culture

When talking about Japanese culture, besides the traditional culture, you will definitely imagine the kawaii culture. Kawaii culture is a typical Japanese culture that focuses on cute and cute elements.

This culture was first triggered as an influence by the existence of anime and manga. Kawaii culture has developed very rapidly and has also spread everywhere, even to western countries.

It is also the main inspiration in Japanese culture design. Many of the artworks adopt this culture as their main element. Usually, the use of the kawaii culture is shown from the use of cute colors and also cute elements such as cats and dolls.

However, the kawaii culture is also now starting to be integrated with a minimalist style. The designs that adopt a kawaii and minimalist style usually use cute but simple illustrations in their artwork.

Created by Victor Valiente |


9. Gradients

One of the elements in the Japanese art style that is trending is the use of gradients in the artwork. Smooth color mixing is one of the main elements found in many artworks.

Usually, the artwork will use pastel and soft colors as the colors to be used as a gradient. This gradient is one of the main elements that will make artwork unique and different from the others.

Created by Mitsutaka Nakao |



As we see above, this type of art form is so complex and diverse. However, we also noticed that there are some unique elements that can be imitated. Usually, the art inspired by Japanese culture is very colorful, bright, and cheerful. It gives us a platform not to be afraid to experiment and express ourselves through design. 

However, Japanese culture design can also be simple and minimalist as well as calming. This design style usually has a zen element that is welcoming and also comfortable to look at.

So, which Japanese artworks above do you like the most? Tell us your comments in the section below! We hope you enjoy reading this article and taking it as an inspiration for your creative process. Have a great day, and cheers!

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