Japan loves nature…or not…maybe…
Despite the apparently shameless brutality with which nature has been massacred in order to develop urban Japan, there is still a clear sensitivity for things organic. The natural world, although something to be conquered and controlled, is also central to Japanese culture. Not only in the obvious traditional sense (the classic Japanese Garden for example), but also in small ways encountered everyday.
Certainly most western cultures reference the natural world in their decorations, toys, packaging and so on, but in Japan there is a distinct difference – it is presented as simultaneously heartwarming and nostalgic, and seems to capture a sense of vulnerability. This seems particularly interesting given the abovementioned destruction and desire to control nature.
However this post is actually more to do with visual evidence of nature in everyday life, so I shall leave the cultural discussions until a later post.
nature pictures in cities
Given that any city is necessarily filled with unsightly construction and unattractive structures existing purely for functionality, people here go to great lengths to minimise the ugliness to which the public are exposed.
To protect people from witnessing the dirt and mess within construction sites, walls and fences are often built to block the view (as they are in many outher countries) but in Japan these are then decorated with an incredible variety of images to remind people of the heartwarming qualities of nature. Thus disturbing thoughts of what’s really going on won’t enter people’s imagination. It’s all designed to help people feel good, just as the lovely bird sounds I documented before.
Nature scenes are also often seen painted on unsightly buildings, or are used to fill blank public spaces which would otherwise remain aesthetically unpleasant.
The desire to beautify unsightly things goes so far as to use nature photographs on bags to wrap rubbish, such as this pair spotted recently during cherry blossom season…