I travelled for Japan last week. Although, this wasn’t my first tine to land on the country of the rising sun, but it was my first time to spent a whole week wandering around Kansai area and a little bit of an old village.
Japan has always been interesting to me since I was a child. Growing up with Japanese animation, I’ve learned a little but of their culture.
And then I started to have some Japanese friends whom I met all over the place. From them I learned more deeply about how Japanese treat other one another.
When I was in Tokyo, I visited a Japanese friend and we had a dinner together with her foreign husband. We had a really interesting discussion about Japan. I told them that I was fascinated about Japanese design. Just about the high quality of product, graphic design, food, crafts, etc.
For me the use of use of colors, fun composition, out of the grid design, and expressive (sometimes over dramatic) photographs really reflect the creative aspect of the people. Even though they are over creative on making design composition, I felt that everything is Fibonacci Perfection.
I wonder if the use of Kanji took part on defining how Japanese design looked like. The combination of Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana are like a simple drawing in a sentence. Could be challenging as designer need to balance white space between each letter on a sentence. But it gives them also something to play with with the composition and be more creative in it.
Another advantages of using Kanji is on the way they used to write it. As before they use brushes to write, they have to do it precisely. Because there’s a need to add pressure on certain part of the text, which train them to be more detail on thing.
This discussion on detail leads us to a discussion of Japanese people themselves. The husband of my friend is a foreigner who can fluently speak Japanese and has been living there for a long time. He made a good point when he said that Japanese people are emotional. They have been through many natural disaster and because of that they appreciate and respect what they have now. It was a good point and I agree it made what they are now.
Japanese people who are into detail appreciate little things such as how they give back coin changes at a drug store, wrapping up presents, or presenting food (at the restaurant or convenience store). They are not the happiest people on earth but they respect things and cherish human relationship with goods and nature.
My Japanese friend, make a lot more sense opinion on a different perspective. She said that Japanese are mostly shy people. That is why they express their feeling through art, design, poem, writing, or what ever action they would do without saying much. Which explain why every Japanese ads are expressive and sometimes over dramatic.
Emotion and shyness are kind of coherent with each other. So three of us were on the same page.
Learning about how culture defines design presentation is interesting. Japan has thought me so much about this. It has been an interesting journey in Japan.