Historically Japan was a country which was envied by the world for her “beauty.” Starting from the ancient periods of Asuka and Nara to the period of Heian, Muromachi, Azuchi, and Genroku that followed. Through hundreds of years of history, Japanese culture was established and prospered among the people, and now fascinates many overseas artists’ eyes.

As known to many now, Ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints, had a great influence on renowned foreign artists’ work such as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gaugin and many others. Even Charlie Chaplin and Thomas Edison visited Japan with fascination: “aesthetic sense” of Japan had effects to this extent.

In old Japan “beauty” always existed among the daily lives of the people, even in the lives of those in lower classes.

However, nowadays what dominates most in the world is a “number.” No matter how poor quality an item is, amount that is sold is all that matters: Everything is produced for the sake of its function, efficiency, and economic effect… Artistic work often gets omitted in order to pursue excessive simplicity. Being poisoned by inferior entertainment and music nowadays, manners are neglected and we see billows of desires everywhere.

In this reality I sincerely think that we are required to consider how to live with beauty in order to obtain a calm state of heart and peace in life. Beauty colors our lives and also satisfies our hearts.

With beauty in culture, entertainment, art, and music, our use of words and manners become more sophisticated, and the beauty can allow you to have more consideration for others. I believe that only the Japan’s established “aesthetic sense,” that once existed in the good old times, can bring peace to the dissoluted modern society and can vitalize people’s lives.

Azuma Seika
Grand Master of Azuma-ryu Nihon Buyo Dance Institute