Asia – An Overview of Japan and it’s Design

As the result of all my research, I have finally concluded that the main focus of my research shall be around Asian style. I have been researching all different parts of Asia and have decided that my interests lie in Japan specifically so I shall be looking at all the different aspects of design in Japan.
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The aspects I shall be covering in this research are:
Art Styles

In my opinion Asia has one of the most appealing styles as a collective out of any other continent on the planet (a bit bias I know, but that’s my honest opinion!)

Beginning with the art, there are so many different styles and techniques across the different countries in Asia that it is hard to create an overview that fully encompasses the style within Asia. Some of the examples below are traditional asian art, I have noticed that a lot of the art is influenced heavily by the nature in Asia for example there are a lot of mountains, trees and flowers. Embroidery was also popular as a form of art in Asia.

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The history of Japanese art is extensive, reaching right back to the Jōmon Art of 1000 BC. Japan is well known for it’s wide variety of art styles, many of which inspired by the art of different countries, but at the same time there are even more traditional, purely Japanese artists. There are artworks ranging from ancient pottery, sculpture, ink painting and calligraphy on silk and paper, ukiyo-e paintings and woodblock prints, kiri-e, kirigami, origami, and more recently manga.

The best known artist of Japan is named Hokusai, he has produced an extremely wide variety of work, over 30,000 to be exact and is ironically influenced by Western art despite being the most well known in Japan. Hokusai managed to influence artists such as Van Gogh and Whistler. Some of his artwork is below:

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Zen Ink Painting
First of all, Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of Chinese ‘Chan‘ – the Buddhist sect which first came about in China during the era of Tang Dynasty art in 618.
If you look at the style, it is very much as the name suggests, a lot of ink is used and by the looks of it, it’s smudged around quite a lot depending on the artist, I think this technique will be useful for when I am using ink within my design work, be it typography or artwork. Zen Ink Painting seems t emit a lovely, serene feel that really adds to it’s beautiful appearance. See below some Zen ink painting:

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Japanese Manga is basically the Japanese version of comics, a lot like Marvel or DC is in America, though there are many different and popular brands and styles of comic that are popular all over the world. If a Mangaka (漫画家) (the Manga artists) are lucky, their work will get turned into an Anime series/movie (Japanese cartoons). The reason I have chosen to look at Manga as an art form is because it is unique and different from the usual perception of ‘art’ – also I like the way panels can be laid out in the comics. Manga was when I first saw the vertical Japanese writing system, it inspired me to create one of the logos for my Corporate ID project.
Below are some examples of Japanese Manga:

Takeshi Obata:
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Eiichiro Oda:

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There are artists out there who use Manga as an influence within a style of their own. My favourite example of this is Japanese-American artist Audrey Kawasaki who is inspired by Art Nouveau and Manga, see some of her work below:

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The worldwide most favorite manga among both men and women polled is One Piece—followed by Dragon Ball, Slam Dunk, and Naruto for men and Slam Dunk, Kimi ni Todoke, and NANA, for women. The most popular character polled for both genders is Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)

There are also the manga artists who create digital versions of their art, or simply prefer the digital method of comic-book making as it is faster, cheaper and overall more efficient in some ways. There are millions of fanart on the web that relate to digital manga art:

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KasperI did some overall research into the colours and textures used in general Japanese traditional art, click the images below to see my experiments:


The architecture is very similar to the art style, it is elegant and graceful yet stands strong and gives a very imposing impression to those who pass. One distinct feature I have noticed is carried throughout the buildings within most Asian countries is the upwards turned edges on the roofs. This is something I will like to research further.


The most common Religious building and most beautiful in Japan are the Buddhist Temples, they stand tall above people with an imposing appearance.
There are also buildings like these in China and Korea (more too) that have the same sort of impression and physical appearance. Below are some photos my dad took in China when on a business trip, the images are bad quality but they convey what the atmosphere of Asian countries is like compared to the Western world:

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The clothing in Asia is usually very  brightly coloured consisting of many ribbons, ropes and layers that all contribute to the overall appearance of these large and formal clothing styles. This traditional dress code can be worn for anything from weddings to festivals to rituals, visiting temples, new year, ceremonies and many other reasons. Some of the clothes bear similar colour schemes to the buildings.

The girls of Asia all have different formal dress codes that used to be worn by higher ranking people or for formal occasions or ceremonies, the names of these are:

Koreans have the Hanbok
Japanese wear Kimonos
In China it’s Chèuhngsāam

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Nowadays in Japan there are many, many… many weird and wonderful styles of fashion roaming the streets, in fact certain areas in Japan such as Harajuku are known for their whacky street style.
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Gwen Stefani’s perfume “Harajuku Lovers” Is inspired by her “Harajuku Girls”.


One of the most widespread and well known forms of fashion that is popular in Japan is called Cosplaying. This is where people dress up as certain characters from books, movies, manga, anime, games, or simply represent an idea and is common on Harajuku street and comic con in the Western world:

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Typography is one of my favourite features of Asia, their writing system is almost like art in itself. Primarily ink and a brush was used to write in ancient Asia, the outcome being unique and very much on par with the art style also – they share the same ink-based appearance which I link, it can look delicate yet imposing at the same time.

The Korean writing system is composed of one alphabet named Hangul.
Each Hangul character is made up of two parts: a Vowel and a Consonant, sometimes there is the gap filler (eun/ㅇ) for when either a vowel or consonant is on its own because it wouldn’t be able to create a sound otherwise.

  • Consonant letters: ㄱ (ㄲ) ㄴ ㄷ (ㄸ) ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ (ㅃ) ㅅ (ㅆ) ㅇ ㅈ (ㅉ) ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ
  • Vowel letters: ㅏ ㅐ ㅑ ㅒ ㅓ ㅔ ㅕ ㅖ ㅗ ㅘ ㅙ ㅚ ㅛ ㅜ ㅝ ㅞ ㅟ ㅠ ㅡ ㅢ ㅣ

The Chinese Alphabet is really complicated and all together there are over 50,000 characters…!! This language is beyond me and I’d rather stick to English… but anyhow here are some common Chinese symbols:
凶 – Terrible/Fearful
凤 – Surname Feng/Phoenix
央 – Centre
叹 – To gasp/exclaim

Finally, the Japanese writing system. Japanese is made up of three alphabets named Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Kanji was originally the Japanese language descending from and sharing the same appearance as Chinese characters, Hiragana was created hundreds of years ago for women and children because the Japanese thought the Chinese characters (Kanji) might be too challenging. Katakana is sometimes used in place of Hiragana to pronounce foreign words. Here’s what they look like:
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Kanji overall appears the same/similar to Chinese characters.

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This is a form of Japanese art that


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