Japanese Influence is Global-Part 1-Art

Japanese Influence is Global-Part 1-Art

Japanese influence is global! As just one small example, you may ask what does Japan have to do with the catacombs in Paris? Well, check this out!

Photograph by Stephen Alvarez, National Geographic

In a sandy chamber, underground in the catacombs of Paris, in a room known as the “beach,” a wave rolls across a wall painted (and repainted) by cataphiles in the style of Japanese printmaker Hokusai. Katsushika Hokusai was a Internationally renowned Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker from the Edo period. Hokusai is best-known as the author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1831) which includes his most famous print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print, that secured Hokusai’s fame to this day . To me it is a commemorative to the history of Japan’s resilience in the face of the awesome force of Mother Nature on her shore’s.   

Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa

I have always admired the intricacy in the “simplicity” of Japanese Prints, and paintings in general. From the older more traditional wood prints, to the more modern prints we see today.

via the floating world of Ukiyo-e-Hashiguchi Goyô. Woman After Bath, 1920.

There is also a strength in the subtle use of color and form that transcends time and traditions, giving it the ability to work across many cultures, both east and west.

South Wind at Clear Dawn by Hokusai

There is a feeling of translucency and beauty in the composition and clean lines; an energy in the movement of the art that works in almost any interior.

via Allison Jaffe Int. Design

It is both lovely and ironic to me that National Geographic published the story of the Paris Catacombs in their February issue…just 6 weeks prior to the latest series of natural disasters that have plagued Japan. While National Geographics story goes way beyond the painting seen above in the sandy chamber, that painting, in my opinion is by far one of the most beautiful works of art found in the underworld of Paris. The Catacombs of Paris or Catacombes de Paris are a famous underground ossuary in Paris, France. Located south of the former city gate, the “Barrière d’Enfer”, at today’s Place Denfert-Rochereau), the ossuary holds the remains of about 6 million people and fills a renovated section of caverns and tunnels that are the remains of Paris’ stone mines.

To see the wave in context, check out the video below. Is traditional Japanese art an influence you would expect to see underground in Paris?

This week on twitter you can support #JapanLife from March 27th through April 2nd by posting on any subject you want that has to do with Japan, and join in any discussions about #JapanLife. By doing so, and spreading the links below, together we will help to increase global support for Japan in her current time of need.

And/Or simply leave your prayers for Japan by lighting a candle through here!

What are you doing to help Japan? Do you feel it’s important for all of us to reach out? I would love your addition to this conversation by leaving a comment below. Thanks




  1. Maridel Bowes 9 years ago

    Thanks, Irene, for this timely post and its weaving of Japan’s artistic influence with the invitation to participate in the crisis that is not just Japan’s, but all of ours. I have never been drawn to Japanese art, but a dear friend of mine is and I have grown in appreciation of it through him. I enjoy having that appreciation broadened through awareness of how much it has influenced other cultures, including France! My contribution to Japan is continuing to raise my own consciousness and live in the highest vibration of love possible. And I light a candle with my prayer via your blog.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by Maridel and sharing your powerful blessings by lighting a candle. Consciously spreading a blessing is one of the best things that we can do!

  2. I find the art showing water, land, and air very moving–the movement you mentioned is definitely there. Much of the influence of Japanese art has gone unnoticed by me–the Catacombs in Paris being a good case in point. You did not mention Japanese anime, but that art form evokes so much for me of the fluidity and beauty of the culture.
    We contribute to Mercy Corps, which responds to emergencies and also helps create new structures in societies facing devastation from natural disasters and violence.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Balance, Boundaries, and New Life Directions Through Writing

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      yes, there is a lot to reflect on in their art is there not? thank you so much for your contributions both with Mercy Corps and your good will. Thanks for mentioning Anime as well…there is so much they do offer, I am choosing to focus on only two this week. Part 2 out on Thursday!

  3. Candy Silvasy 9 years ago

    Irene I adore this post! That Paris photo is brilliant! The colors, the unexpected locale (under catacombs)! And the Mount Fuji under a wave – the sense of motion is remarkable. Thank you so much for participating and sharing a few of your favorite Japanese influences! Candy

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      It is a great idea Candy, and we now have a mutual admiration society going…isn’t that nice? and a new friend : )

  4. Donna McCord 9 years ago

    Such beauty and grace and emotion displayed in these works of art — I was blown away by the painting of the wave — remarkable! There is such a deep and painful history that goes hand and hand with the Japanese art; I was surprised, too, by the artwork in the Paris underworld, and intrigued by what I saw in the video…so, if it is illegal to go underground, and yet so many do it, I am guessing they do not enforce the law?? I am so deeply saddened by what is happening in Japan right now and my contribution has been through World Vision which I have worked with them in child sponsorship and other disaster relief efforts over the last 30 years. It is so uplifting to see how many people are responding to Japan’s needs, and I see how God is working in and through the devastation. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and offering more ways to support the Japanese people.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      Blessings to you for your work with World Vision Donna. Our thoughts, prayers and blessings are incredibly powerful and Japan can use them all right now, as can our Earth! Thanks for stopping by and for all your contributions

  5. Molly Perry 9 years ago

    Your insight into the artwork was so provoking, Irene. The underground catacombs of Paris are astonishing. Japan has been on my heart since the horrid events earlier this month. Let us not forget about the trials in Japan. The news media may have put Japan on the back burner, but we cannot!

  6. Debbie Goldberg 9 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this. I love the artwork in the catacombs! Beautiful…

  7. Darcie Newton 9 years ago

    Lovely post…I saw the article in National Geographic about the catacombs and love the connection you made in your post. We are headed to Paris this summer…I’ll keep my investigating to those things above ground but will not doubt wonder what lies below as I wander around the city.

    Darcie Newton
    Discipline for profit, none for jammy zins and memorable necklaces

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      Yes…I agree. No plans for me to go down under. I used to get a little freaked out after reading the book and seeing the movie The Vampire Lestet by Anne Rice. It felt weird to think that vampires were down there! This is a much better image, and imagine in 2000 years when they discover all this wonderful art!

  8. Rachel Blaufeld 9 years ago

    The Japanese paintings are gorgeous in the beginning of your piece and the way that you tie your blog in with relief for Japan is an amazing idea. I always love your introduction of colors – makes me feel so great! Rachel

  9. Laurie Hurley 9 years ago

    I read the article in National Geograhic about “under Paris” and it was amazing. The video definitely brings life to it! I love the Japanese artwork, too. I have donated several times to Japan since the disaster – mostly by adding money to purchases either online or in person. Beautiful visuals and wonderful and timely of you to share them with us.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      Thanks for all you do Laurie…for those in Japan and for your family!

  10. Susan Berland 9 years ago

    I’ve always been attracted to Japanese art and I love the information you provided here. The room you show with the art on the wall is just beautiful. I assume you designed it and it shows what talent you have.

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      actually that particular room is designed by Allison Jaffe Susan, I used because it’s the best pic to show what I was talking about! Glad you like

  11. Wonderful post – so funny that you wrote about this – I was struck by the same image but since the occurrences would have happened before, it makes sense!
    Lovely post and I really enjoyed the video!
    Thank you so much for participating in #japanlife!

  12. Jennifer Duchene 9 years ago

    Love the beauty of line and the distillation of Japanese Art. I am intrigued by the idea that art travels so well, translates and empowers in its flight. It is also a reminder that while people suffer, die and tragedy occur, art lives on, and compassion and greater depth of connections are made in the waves. The outpouring of love and light for our fellow earth dwellers is truly artful and heartfelt.

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress blending lifestyle laughter and Diva Dens

  13. Fiona Stolze 9 years ago

    This post was so alive Irene. I love looking at all the images and enjoying the colours. I was amazed watching the video. And to hear that it is illegal to go underground is surprising since so many people seem to be down there. What a treasure trove. I have always been a lover of Japanese art and so can particularly appreciate this offering.

    I have such a sense of how humbling this disaster has been. No matter what we build up, none of it is permanent and can be washed away in the twinkling of an eye. It brings home to us the things that are really important.

    Fiona Stolze
    Inspired Art and Living

  14. Pat Zahn 9 years ago

    Loved this Irene! The story and art are intriguing by themselves, but coupled with recent events especially poignant. I wouldn’t have known that the wave wall painting was in Japanese style, so educational for me as well.

  15. So beautiful and giving especially in light of the recent tragedy. I love the catacomb “beach” its hard to believe this is underground and out of reach….its so beautiful. It is wonderful that you thought of how you could tie this all together and bring light to Japan who is in the middle of disaster. Its an uplifting and educational piece…and a lovely way of giving back. Thanks for sharing some very interesting artwork and letting us know what/how we can help.

    Rita Brennan Freay

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      Glad you like Rita, and thanks so much for stopping by

  16. Louise Edington 9 years ago

    Such a lovely post! I myself have never been drawn to Japanese art but I so feel for that country now (we briefly considered a move there many years ago). We too are giving by adding a little each time we go to our grocery store as they are donating 100% to The Red Cross. Unbelievably I have also never been to Paris. I hope to remedy that and will think of this when we do eventually get there.
    Louise Edington
    Finding YOUR Freedom

  17. Alara Castell 9 years ago

    I love the images and the colors! Such an inspirational post. I have such appreciation for the arts and all the beauty that is in the hand of the creator. This came at a perfect time because I was thinking what I could do to support Japan and now I know. Thank you Irene!

    Alara K. Castell
    Your Sassy Spiritual Guide

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      thank you Alara…our creator is incredible, no?

  18. Robbie Schlosser 9 years ago

    Hi Irene,
    Beautiful post! Who knew? Reminds me that about 120 years ago, western Europeans became enthralled with all things Japanese. The French Impressionist painters took great inspiration from Japanese prints and the Japanese sense of design. And interest in Japanese culture permeated all the western arts — for example, Gilbert & Sullivan penned their operetta “The Mikado” and Puccini wrote his popular opera “Madame Butterfly”.

  19. Bill Browning 9 years ago

    Wonderful post. I had seen and admired many of the paintings over the years, but had never had the background. Thank you.

  20. Carrie Hansen 9 years ago

    Your writing was especially beautiful and the images STUNNING! Thank you so much for participating in this wonderful cause!

    Carrie Hansen
    Snuggery Style

  21. Philip Fabin 9 years ago

    Excellent article and easy to understand explanation. How do I go about getting permission to post part of the article in my upcoming news letter? Giving proper credit to you the author and link to the site would not be a problem.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      Philip, you are welcome to share any of this information with links back to this site. I LOVE sharing little bits of beauty™! Let me know what you do, I’d love to read it


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