SHIKI | 四季


It is fascinating to see the enormous importance of nature in all of Japanese culture. Not only in art, but also in fashion, commerce, gastronomy and everyday life.

We find Sakura flowers 桜 in spring, bamboo 竹 in summer, autumn fruits like kaki or mushrooms and winter flowers like magnolias. And we can see all this represented both in a teacup and in elements of everyday life, as well as in works of art from the Edo Period.

12 Months Collection, Views of Mount Fuji, 2018, MARCH and MAY | Oil on canvas, Traditional Japanese Urushi Lacquer, 20 cm.

In the following images, which belong to the Herbaceous Graphics of the National Library of Japan, we can see flowers and fruits from all seasons of the year. These graphics are very important among designers of fabrics, as well as kimonos, and other items in Japan.

Images from the collection of the National Library, 本草図譜, Herbaceous graphics, (1603-1868)

It is important to differentiate between Western and Eastern art. In Western Art, anthropocentrism prevails, man is at the center of the universe and in his poetry or painting his emotions and feelings take center stage.


AUTUMN IN MOUNT FUJI, 2004 | 38cm x 46cm Oil on Canvas, JAPAN COLLECTION

However, in Japanese art, man is dissolved in the universe. In his art, small details of nature appear, the changes of the four seasons and even more of the 12 months of the year are observed, with the flora, fauna and fruits of each season, insects… Representing each moment of nature as something unique is the miracle of life.


FUJU SAKURA, 冬桜, SAKURA IN WINTER, 2017, 40cm x50cm, Oil on canvas, Platinum y Japanese Traditional Lacquer Urushi, Platinum Collection.

Below, one of the poems considered secret of the art of fencing, reflects the Zen spirit and we can appreciate how nature and the four seasons are considered here.

If your ears see
and your eyes hear, no doubt you will appreciate
how naturally the rain drips
from the eaves.

Spring is here, gently blowing in the wind,
Peach and apricot trees are in full bloom.
Dewdrops are thick on autumn nights,
The leaves fall from the pawlonia tree.
The blossoms, the leaves of the maple tree in autumn,
and the winter snows covering the field in white.
How beautiful they are, each in its own way!
I fear that my attachments do not go beyond
Than the sensual, (for now I know it is Reality).

Within the sacred fence before which I bow
There must be a pool of clear waters.
When my mind-moon becomes bright
I see its shadow reflected in the water.

Everywhere and at all times the mind
is attached to something.
Hasten to separate yourself from it,
if you stay behind for any length of time,
it will become your hometown again.

Daitō Kokushi

If you like Japanese culture you will enjoy my new book KOTODAMA言霊. El Corazón de Japón, Arte y Cultura.