Differences between Chinese Vs Japanese Art

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by QCity Editorial Stuff

Japanese and Chinese paintings have a lot of similarities. They both use ink, paper, brushes to paint with. However, there are also many differences between the two styles that can be seen throughout their artwork. The most noticeable difference is color – Japanese art is typically more colorful than Chinese art which tends to focus on black and white or shades of grey. Artists in China would often combine colors while artists in Japan would blend them into one another for an overall softer effect. Another key difference is brushstrokes; in Japan, it’s common for brushstrokes to follow the natural flow of the subject whereas in China they’re much more rigid and uniform (although this varies depending on when the work was created. 

The Japanese and Chinese cultures are often regarded as being opposed, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The two countries have many similarities in their artistic styles including landscape painting, calligraphy, ink wash painting, porcelain production, and sculpture. It is interesting to note how these cultures were able to influence each other even though they existed on different continents. 

Comparison between Chinese and Japanese Art

Parameters of ComparisonChineseJapanese
SystemChinese art is meant to be looked at from a distanceJapanese art is meant to be admired up close.  
BackgroundIn Chinese paintings, the background and foreground are blurred togetherIn Japanese paintings, there’s more contrast between foreground and background
RealisticRealistic and abstractJapanese art is usually more realistic
MonkeysMonkeys were often depicted in Chinese artwork because they symbolized happiness and longevityThe monkey was never used as a motif for good luck or long life in Japan
DevelopedThe use of perspective in Chinese paintings was not as well developed as it was in JapaneseMore developed

What is Chinese Art?

When one thinks of art, the first thing that often comes to mind is classical European paintings with their brushstrokes of light and dark colors, telling stories of old. However, art is not exclusive to the West – in fact, some of the most impressive and unique artwork comes from East Asia. Chinese art is a great example of this, with its bold designs and intricate patterns. In this post, we’ll take a look at the history and development of Chinese art, as well as some famous examples that you can go see for yourself.

Chinese art is one of the oldest and most diverse in the world. It has a long and complex history, dating back thousands of years. Chinese art is unique in that it combines elements from both Eastern and Western art traditions. In this article, we will take a closer look at Chinese art and its history. We will also explore some of the different styles and mediums used in Chinese art.

Differences between Chinese Vs Japanese Art

What is Japanese Art?

Japanese art is a rich and diverse form of visual expression. It has been said that Japanese artists are the most prolific in the world, with one estimate suggesting that there are more than 100,000 Japanese painters alone. The wide range of artistic media includes painting on paper or silk, woodblock printing, ceramics, sculpture in metal or clay, textile arts such as kimono design, and dyeing ikat weaving techniques. Important items to note about this artwork include its emphasis on asymmetry with natural objects placed off-center; an appreciation for space; frequent use of grids across surfaces to create tessellations; strong colors combined with black ink (often mixed with water) or white paint; linear perspective achieved by shading darker colors closer to the viewer; and a focus on the surface of the object.

Differences between Chinese Vs Japanese Art

10 Differences between Chinese and Japanese Art

1. Chinese art is meant to be looked at from a distance, while Japanese art is meant to be admired up close.

2. In Chinese paintings, the background and foreground are blurred together; in Japanese paintings, there’s more contrast between foreground and background.

3. The use of perspective in Chinese paintings was not as well developed as it was in Japanese paintings.

4. Monkeys were often depicted in Chinese artwork because they symbolized happiness and longevity; the monkey was never used as a motif for good luck or long life in Japan.

5. Unlike their counterparts on the other side of Asia, Buddhist deities were rarely portrayed by artists working within China’s traditional artistic tradition.

6. A wide variety of ink techniques can be found within China’s artistic tradition – including those that involve using gold leaf, silver powder, or even crushed pearls mixed with watercolors.

7. Japanese art is usually more realistic and less abstract than Chinese art.

8. There are many different styles of Chinese art, such as calligraphy, painting, sculpture, and architecture.

9. In China there is a lot of symbolism in their artwork that may not be seen in Japan.

10. The Japanese believe that all things have a spirit while the Chinese don’t think about it quite as much.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Chinese Art

1. Chinese art is the oldest continuous living handcraft tradition in the world.

2. The term “Chinese” refers to a nationality, not an ethnicity or race.

3. China has over 5,000 years of history and culture that can be traced back to the Neolithic era.

4. Chinese art is most often associated with calligraphy or painting. 

5. There are many different types of Chinese paintings including landscape paintings, bird-and-flower paintings, figure paintings, and still life paintings.

6. Many famous artists have been known for their work in traditional Chinese painting such as Guo Xi (1020-1090), Wang Ximeng (1470-1559), and Gao Kegong (1307–1368).

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Japanese Art

1. Japanese art is not limited to paintings and sculptures, but also includes pottery and textiles.

2. The word “Ikebana” means “to live with flowers” in Japanese.

3. There are two types of traditional Japanese painting styles – ink wash painting and color-saturated woodblock prints.

4. Some well-known examples of these traditional painting styles include Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa (a woodblock print), and Soga Shohaku’s Plum Blossoms in Snow (an ink wash painting).

5. Ukiyo-e prints were originally made for the entertainment district of Edo or modern-day Tokyo. 

6. The name derives from the words uki meaning ‘floating world’ and yo meaning ‘the present world’ which refers to this life as opposed to death.


There are many differences between the Japanese and Chinese art styles. The most obvious difference is that in Japan, paint was applied to wet paper, while in China it was hand-troweled onto drywalls. This differentiates their process of painting as well as how paint behaves when drying on the wall. One other main difference between these two cultures is their attitude towards surface finishes; in China, they were often left with a coarse texture because of this, while Japan focused more on finishing techniques like applying gold leaf or detailed brushwork. These distinctions can be seen clearly through the style of work created by each country’s artists over time–the scroll paintings from ancient China share an iconic look with today’s modern.


Resource 01: https://mymodernmet.com/types-of-chinese-art/
Resource 02: https://japanobjects.com/features/japanese-art

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