Japanese Art of Balance Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3502 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

One of the areas of balance that is cultivated when creating origami is patience. If the folds are not just right and in the correct order, or if one gets in a hurry and is sloppy, the origami will not come out correctly. Sometimes it will not look quite right. Other times, it becomes impossible to create it at all because of the incorrect pattern that has been created (Henshall, 2001). The important thing with origami is not to give up. Even if things sometimes go wrong, there is always another opportunity to correct the problem or to make something else. There is no need to give up on the entire idea of origami because one design failed to work. The same thing is true with life, and this is one way origami teaches balance.

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No matter what the problem, a lack of patience with the origami is usually at the root of the difficulty. Cultivating patience is a good life lesson for providing balance, and can be done through the creation of origami either for oneself or for others. Small children can be taught origami, although they need to work with simpler shape and designs. As a person gets older and manual dexterity improves, it becomes easier to create the more complex shapes and designs of those who have been using origami for a long time (Henshall, 2001; Sugimoto, 2003) Age is no barrier to any kind of origami creation, however, as long as the understanding of the directions and the manual dexterity to fold the shapes are there. The very young and the very old sometimes have trouble with these areas. Whether a person can successfully create origami, however, has no effect on how much that person may enjoy watching others create it or looking at the finished product. Origami is about balance and patience, but it is also about the joy that can come from focusing on something simple and the enjoyment that can be provided to others when one creates something of beauty.

Food and Sushi

Term Paper on Japanese Art of Balance in Assignment

Food (and specifically sushi) are both examples of balance in Japanese culture. For example, receiving wasabi with one's sushi is not just for taste, but for the fact that it helps keep digestion neutral. Acid plus alkaline equals neutral, so the person eating the sushi stays in balance. Not all Japanese food is like that, but the majority of it is when it is eaten as it is intended (Cwiertka, 2007). When Japanese food becomes "Westernized" in America and other countries it is no longer the same as it was when it was traditionally made. That does not mean it is bad in either taste or value, but only that there are differences between the sushi purchased in a restaurant or grocery store in America and the sushi that would be eaten in Japan. These differences may be subtle, and some of the sushi found in Westernized countries may be more similar to the traditional sushi than other options. The value of sushi - and most other Japanese foods - is that there is so much balance in the food that is provided (Cwiertka, 2007; Sugimoto, 2003). The taste is generally well-balanced, but so are things like spicy and band, sweet and sour, and other aspects of taste.

Texture achieves a good balance in Japanese cuisine, as well (Cwiertka, 2007). There is much more to balance in food than how something tastes. There is also the texture and the ingredients, along with the portion size and the way the food looks on the plate or in the bowl. Sushi is a very balanced food because of the rice, seaweed, and fish that is usually incorporated into it. There are several food groups all in one dish, and the wasabi that is generally served with it provides a unique flavor, a spiciness, and a way in which proper balance and digestion can be more easily achieved (Cwiertka, 2007). The look of the sushi is also important. Often, it is rolled - sometimes with the rice on the outside, and sometimes with the seaweed on the outside. The fish is either placed in the middle or placed on top, depending on the particular type of sushi the person is eating. There are many different types, which allows for people who have varied tastes and opinions of what they like to still get their sushi (Cwiertka, 2007). Not all sushi contains fish, and vegetable sushi is a popular option for those who do not eat meat or those who do not like fish.

Other foods that are also popular in Japan and in Japanese cooking have careful balance, too. Dumplings are often stuffed with mixtures of meat and vegetables, and tempura is used to give a crispy coating to both meats and vegetables (Cwiertka, 2007). The flavors are important, but so are the textures and the look of the food. While traditional Japanese food is much different from what is provided in America and other Western nations, many Japanese people get a much better diet that has a lot more balance of nutrients to it than what Westerners receive. The Japanese diet is full of proteins and healthy benefits, and that allows many Japanese people to remain healthy well into their latter years (Cwiertka, 2007). There are also lower rates of obesity in Japan than there are in Western countries, partially because of the lack of greasy, fatty foods in the Japanese diet (Cwiertka, 2007). Because Japanese people have a better balance in what they eat, they are often able to avoid many of the illnesses that plague those in countries where the diet is out of balance. Balance is not just about how something looks, but can also be a serious matter of health.

Japanese Swords

Japanese swords, the katana and wakazashi, are beautiful examples of art and physical balance. A sword is a thing of beauty, but swords were not originally designed to be only ornamental. They were designed to be used by the samurai and other Japanese warriors in order to protect and defend their land (Diamond, 1998). If the sword was not sharp, and if it did not do the job for which it was designed, it was of no use to the warrior. Additionally, the sword had to be comfortable to swing. That meant that it needed a literal balance based on the weight of the handle vs. The weight of the blade, as well as what kinds of metals were used to make the sword. Strength was important. Sword that chipped, cracked, and broke did no one any good (Diamond, 1998). It took some time to get the makeup of the sword just right, of course, but once it was done it was also important that the balance was retained and that future sword makers did not change what they were doing in order to ensure that the sword was properly created and could be effectively utilized.

Each and every sword was handmade, which meant there would be differences in them (Diamond, 1998). That is only natural when something is created by hand instead of being made on an assembly line. Still, it is necessary to make each sword to specifications so that each warrior can use them properly. Additionally, many swords are ornamental in nature, or they are designed to be both useful and ornamental (Diamond, 1998). With that in mind, the balance between form and function takes on a new level of importance. Each sword that is created for a dual purpose must be able to serve each one of those purposes equally. Sword makers know how to make swords that work, but do they know how to make them works of art, as well? In Japan, they know how to do both - and that is important both from a cultural and from an artistic standpoint.


Architecture in Japan is about balance and beauty, as well. Straight lines are valued, but so are sweeping curves and unique shapes that are beautiful to look at and that work the way they should (Jansen, 2000; Sugimoto, 2003). Any time there is a new building created in Japan there is an emphasis not only on the function it will provide for the occupants but also on the beauty of it and how well it ties in with the rest of the architecture of the area (Jansen, 2000). Even in large cities such as Tokyo, everything is about both form and function. It has been said that form follows function, but in some cases the reverse appears to be true. No matter which came first, Japanese architecture is all about the delicate balance of providing great living and working space for the people of the country while providing those who see the building something lovely at which they can look (Jansen, 2000; Sugimoto, 2003). Not everything about Japanese… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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