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Japanese People Do Not Know Japan
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Fine Art

I chose the topics of pure art, which is created by energy to make a beautiful thing and fine art, which is created to express human being's awareness, among various types of arts, and wrote about the difference between the two in the previous two articles of this series. There are other categories of beauty, such as academic beauty, and beauty for collectors. In this article, I would like to discuss academic beauty, which has both academic and historic value; for example, ancient earthenware, haniwa clay images, ancient documents and letters, and historical calligraphy and paintings in Japan. They present us with naturally occurring beauty as well as materials for academic research, and some of them are highly evaluated as art objects.
 
Beauty for collectors indicates something that is valued for its design and scarcity and maintains price and value among collectors, such as classic cars, or jukeboxes made in the 1960s, even though they are engineering products. Of course, if the item is made by hand, it will be valued higher and the price, too, will likely be higher. This type of beauty, however, is a special thing for some people who appreciate it, but not beauty that all people acknowledge.
 
Meaning of Art

The theme of the fifth series is "Beauty is Energy". In this perspective, a classic car embodies energy of the earth, which creates iron and other natural materials, energy of people who conceive an idea, create and design cars, using the latest technology and reflecting the times. If the beauty is that of an archaeological site, it is home to the energy of the planet that has been eroding the land for a long time, and energy of people involved in research, excavation, preservation and study, as well as energy of ancient people. Energy is a wave that has will and carries information. A thing that embodies energy has a certain vibration frequency and a certain wavelength. Even if it is a mass-production item, it embodies energy of a lot of people through the process from design, creation, package, promotion, and distribution by sales persons and distributors. All things embody such waves of energy.
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The Japanese Way

I conveniently divide beauty among four categories to explain the concept. But, I do not want to say that works of art are better than works of fine art that are only beautiful, or that items which only some collectors love are valueless, or archaeological and historic items are valueless because I am not interested in such judgments. They are only different. There is neither intrinsic superiority nor inferiority, and the different categories are neither higher nor lower.
 
People have found beauty in various items and collected them, be they pure art works, fine art works, collector's items or ancient relics. Feeling - and feeling in tune with - the waves of energy lodging in such items, people have been drawn by such energy in a way that transcends reason. There may be people who do not wish to possess art works or craft objects, even if they are free. But, even in such a case it does not mean that he / she does not have an ability to appreciate beauty. It simply means he / she does not "tune in" with works of art, but rather tunes in with something else.
 
From Real Article to Essence

Various items are distributed in the market as art works. However, even some valueless items in terms of beauty are highly praised and pass current in the market, their promoters using mass media, financial power or other methods. Even if successful bid prices at auctions are high, or if the "background" of an item seems excellent, there are not a few "art works" whose value of beauty is fabricated through varied measures. That's the reason why I have repeatedly written about the four categories of beauty in this fifth series.
 
I will discuss methods of fabricating values of beauty in the next article. Before that, I hope you will have understood the meaning of beauty and true value of beauty as I have written about them since last autumn. Values of beauty differ depending on creation, surrounding circumstance, demand and evaluation. Furthermore, monetary values are also changeable depending on the times. All the more reason, then, that you should understand the real meaning of something you recognize as beauty. Something people think genuine can be faked by techniques and added values. Under the current chaotic situation, a number of "genuine" items are fabricated. Henceforward, I hope you will have insight into the true nature of beauty, rather than being content just to judge something a "genuine item".
 
Please send your comment or opinion to hadv@asahi.com
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