Japanese art encompasses a wide range of styles and means of expression, including pottery, sculpture, painting and calligraphy on silk and paper, ukiyo-e woodblock prints. It has a history as long as the civilization of the land of the Rising Sun, which goes from the beginnings of human settlements, around 10,000 BC, up to the present.

Historically, Japan has been subject to sudden invasions of new and alien ideas (it should be said, given that due to its geographical and cultural characteristics the country has almost always represented a "world of its own") followed by long periods of contacts reduced to a minimum with the outside world. Over time the Japanese developed the ability to absorb, imitate and ultimately assimilate those elements of foreign culture that complemented their aesthetic preferences.

The first examples of complex art in Japan were produced in the 7th and 8th centuries in connection with Buddhism. In the 9th century, as the Japanese began to free themselves from the cultural influence of China and develop indigenous forms of expression, the secular arts became increasingly important. Until the end of the fifteenth century, both religious and secular art had a great flowering. After the Onin War (1467 - 1477), Japan entered a period of political, social and economic disintegration that lasted for over a century. In the state organization that emerged under the leadership of the Tokugawa shogunate, organized religion found itself playing a much less important role in people's lives, and the arts that managed to survive were predominantly secular in expression.

Painting, practiced by amateurs and professionals, is the preferred artistic expression in Japan. Even today, as in ancient times, the Japanese write with a brush rather than a pen and their familiarity with the techniques of using the brush has made them particularly sensitive to the aesthetic values ​​of painting. With the rise of popular culture in the Edo period, the ukiyo-e woodblock style became an important art form and its techniques were perfected to produce colorful prints of virtually every topic, from daily news to schoolbook themes. The Japanese have always thought that sculpture was a much less empathic means of artistic expression: the use of sculpture in Japan has almost always been the preserve of religion and its use has waned along with the diminished importance of traditional Buddhism.

The ceramics, among the best in the world, represent the earliest known artifacts of Japanese culture. In architecture, the Japanese have always clearly expressed their ancestral preference for natural materials and for the harmonic interaction between internal and external space.