Japan has long been an important place for the production of metalwork, ceramics, lacquer ware, textiles, painting and printing. Arts were originally reserved for the wealthy, including the aristocracy, government officials, temple priests, and the samurai.
Decorative art in Japan can be highly elaborate and intricate, although other aspects, influenced by Zen Buddhism, emphasise simplicity, balance and space. Often there is an appreciation of the beauty of natural surroundings and the texture of materials.
As well as the skill of Japanese artists, makers and manufacturers, inspiration has come from places such as China and Korea, particularly for ceramics. During the Meji period (1868-1912) there was also a growth in the exchange of techniques and
ideas with the West, which still continues to this day.