Japanese modernist art is often described as being derivative of its Western counterpart, but beneath the surface a real difference between them can be likened to that between religion in Japan and the West.

In the West, mainstream religion has often been overly serious and sanctimonious. In Japan, by contrast, there are "religious" events such as the spring "Big Iron Penis Festival" in Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture, in which a 3-meter-high statue of a pink penis is paraded around the center of town while onlookers happily lick phallically shaped lollipops. In other words, religion and modernist art, which has often been seen as its substitute, can both be said to take themselves much less seriously in Japan than in the West.


the japan times 17072007

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