I chose this image because it symbolizes important things that are slowly fading in this world such as the interrelationship between humanity and nature, the essence of beauty, and the significance of culture among others. All these symbols, combined with a minimalist use of color and elements, make the image so appealing to me. On a more emotional note, this particular image gives me a feeling of peace. It has a calming factor. Looking at it makes me feel at ease and sentimental thoughts tend to arise. Though not exactly the best or the most unique, this image stirs up special feelings.
The image speaks of various concepts. Unless one looks at it beyond its face value, such concepts may escape one’s notice. Although we may look at the same things but interpret them differently, for me, some of the concepts that this image attempts to relay to its audience revolve around the following humanity and nature, beauty in simplicity, and culture.
It is refreshing to see an image that neither deals with the excess of human nature nor portrays nothing but flora and fauna. This image, on one hand, tries to capture both the human and one of nature’s products. The Japanese lady in the attire of a geisha (a local entertainer in Japan) and carrying a pink umbrella symbolizes humanity, while nature is represented by the pink cherry blossom leaves flowing right behind her. The geisha’s presence is in perfect harmony with the cherry blossoms, thus giving me the impression of “symbiosis,” where neither one is competing against the other but are in sync.
I also think the picture is beautiful because it is so simple and I see no hint of pretension, everything is natural and poise. Beauty can indeed mean so many things and it can be on a case to case basis. Depending on who is looking, something or someone may or may not be beautiful. In the context of this image, my definition of beautiful revolves around simplicity and honesty, under the condition of balance. These factors provide substance to an image.
The concept is simple: humanity and nature, the beauty of Japan. I understood what the image meant the moment I laid eyes on it. The lady in kimono, whose eyes are cast downward, looks like a walking metaphor for simple yet graceful beauty. With the Sakura in full view rather than hidden by the umbrella and lost in the background, it is as if she is telling the world that she stands in awe of this natural beauty.
Finally, the image depicts Japanese culture at its best. The geisha, the Japanese umbrella, and the cherry blossoms, locally called Sakura, are all elements of Japanese culture. Each has a significant role in the history of Japan’s people. All of them together in one picture produce a very powerful yet culturally sensitive image.
Balance is something very difficult to achieve in one’s day-to-day existence. When there is imbalance, it usually means that there is a lack of control. In an image, balance is even harder to achieve. If you are the artist, you need to make sure that the concept you attempt to portray is not incomprehensible or exaggerated. Going overboard can produce unfavorable results. In addition, you need to exercise control as far as colors are concerned. Glaring colors can sometimes be a turn-off and they have the tendency to drown the very message you are trying to get across.
Because of such balance, the whole picture becomes mesmerizing and simply beautiful. The lady in kimono and her umbrella do not overpower the cherry blossoms backdrop. Not just conceptually, but this image shows visual harmony, as if taking out one of the elements – be it the geisha, her position, her pink umbrella, the cherry blossoms - will ruin the entire scene. Altogether the image is soothing to the eyes it makes me want to look at it over and over again.
There is a moderate use of colors. The colors present in the image blend naturally and they do not clash. The pink parasol has a bright hue but rather than overpowering the pink Sakura leaves and the lady’s red kimono, it enhances them instead. The absence of overly brilliant colors emphasizes the picture’s simplicity and gives it its apparent peaceful and pleasant aura.
The image is as visually simple as can be, the elements are few, and there is no exaggeration of anything. As already mentioned, the whole setup – the Japanese girl in a geisha ensemble, holding a pink umbrella, with cherry blossoms at the background – appears so natural. There are no added props to make everything grand and colorful. The girl does not make any overly dramatic pose, she merely looks downwards. There are no lanterns or fireworks. Because the image is subtle and simple, no exaggeration whatsoever, the concept of humanity and nature echoes calmly with every look.
The concept of humanity and nature relations and the cultural aspects matter in this image. I believe the image can be of use to those who love nature, and those who need a refreshing break from the all too modern scenes of today’s world. There is too much modernity all over that we forget the importance of nature and culture. The image is a heavy reminder. The image can be used for cultural promotions or as an advertising material that aims to bring Japan into the world.
The image may have been taken by a native Japanese who wants to showcase the beauty of his country by putting together all that is important to Japan. It is also possible that the image is taken by someone who is not exactly a native but has a great fondness for the country and its culture. There are many people who admire Japan for its ability to preserve its roots. Cultural buffs are also likely to take this picture.
When we speak of context, this refers to the background where the image was based or got its inspiration from. The context of this image is Japanese. Thus, in my analysis of the content, I used the Japanese perspective in looking at hidden or implied messages.
First of all, Japan is a country praised for its ability to balance modernity and cultural tradition. We see Japan moving forward into the 21st century rapidly than most countries. Most of the appliances we use are of Japanese brand like Toshiba, Nikon, and Sanyo among others. Japan is one of the first countries to develop holograms and androids or human-like robots.
Despite all the innovations and high-end technology, though, Japanese tradition still lives on. Tea ceremony remains a sacpink practice. Omiai or arranged marriage is still a viable alternative for single Japanese men or women. They still wear their kimonos and yukatas frequently during festivals or formal occasions. Their temples are well-preserved. Most Japanese practice Shintoism, at times with a touch of Buddhism, and are nature lovers. That is why a lot of Japanese keep bonsai plants in their homes even though they live in buzzing cities like Tokyo or Osaka.
Nature is very important to Japan as much as their culture. In fact, I can say that nature is part of Japanese culture. The Japanese have a special affinity for all things natural. They love seafood, and prefer them uncooked and raw. They spearheaded the idea of “zen” or spiritual balance. When you achieve this balance, there is calmness and tranquillity within you. On a macro perspective, one way of achieving this balance is for humanity to commune with nature. The Shinto faith basically believes that nature has a spirit and humans must respect this spirit so he can have a good life.
In this particular image, we see the workings of Shintoism. The presence of the Sakura plant is proof. The woman in kimono can take her picture anywhere, but she has to pose near the Sakura, a product of nature. This is because the Sakura is what sums up beauty and perfection for the Japanese. It has a pure quality to it that it seems rather alive and ethereal, exactly the qualities that Shinto requires. For any lover of nature, it is difficult to resist the cherry blossoms.
The picture is culturally driven. First, it shows us a geisha with downcast eyes. The geisha is an iconic figure of grace, beauty, talent and wit. She is not just an entertainer, but she is groomed with knowledge about the arts, literature, and politics, knows how to dance, can sing and play traditional instruments like the shamisen or koto, is adept at serving tea, and can converse with leisure to different personalities.
The oil-paper umbrella is popular for its unique shape and the Japanese are fond of using natural materials to craft it. Although it originated from China, the gifu is traditionally made of paper and bamboo, often used in spring and summer outings. More modern expressions of gifu make use of plastic so as not to get soaked in water.
Japan is home to the most beautiful cherry blossoms. It is their national flower. They even have a folk song that glorifies the beauty of the Sakura. Many women in the country are named after it and the country has since gained fame for their abundance.
In summary fashion, this image is bound by the concepts of nature and humanity, beauty, and the glory of cultural preservation. From the image, I learn that nature and humanity should complement and not contest with one another. Secondly, beauty may be subjective but simplicity and honesty are what makes up its essence. When there are no pretensions, you see the true worth of someone or something. The final concept, in a general sense, stresses the importance of one’s culture.
On the visual side, the image has a balance appearance. Placement of elements (i.e. the geisha, the umbrella, the Sakura), the use of color – all these are in moderation. Nothing is exaggerated or done in excess. There is harmony and symmetry. I realize that when there is visual balance, the concept the image attempts to convey also becomes balanced.
Utility can also be seen in the image. Its purpose, however, leans more on the cultural and nature aspects. I am of the opinion that the image will be of great use to those who need a break from modernity and nature lovers. Whether natives or not, this image can be used by anyone who loves Japan or culture in general.
Finally, Japan is a good example of cultural balance and preservation. In a nutshell, we see in the image the most celebrated icons of Japanese culture. All these in one image give us the concept of beauty in the context of Japan. Through it, I feel the importance of simplicity, honesty, preserving one’s tradition, balance, and the give and take relationship between humanity and nature.