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How to Incorporate Japanese Design Into Your Work

Updated: May 24, 2022

Photo found at Google Design

While modern design as a whole is enjoying an era inspired by clean, modern Swedish-inspired design, there’s always something to be learned from other cultures and different aesthetics. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring how to incorporate Japanese design into your work.

Japanese Design through the ages

To understand any aesthetic, it’s important to learn its evolution through history. Early Japanese artwork often depicted ancient myths and legends in addition to important figures such as rulers and famous kabuki theater actors. In many of these pieces, nature also plays a large part - whether it’s illustration of waves crashing against the shore, a beautiful sakura tree in full bloom, or the grand Mt. Fuji.

There has also been is a large emphasis on calligraphy and this can be seen still prominently used in many art pieces today.

Eventually, Japan opened up to other cultures and drew influence from them and vice versa, Japan’s influence can be seen in some western designs.

Elements present in modern Japanese Design

  • Handmade Illustration

The hand-painted or calligraphic history of Japanese art can still be found in many modern designs, whether it be in the use of Kanji as motifs or watercolors and prints as illustrations.

By Masaaki Hiromura found at


By Okuyama Taiki (left) and Hirofumi Abe (right) found at

  • Minimalism and Simplicity

Modern designs in Japanese culture generally have been simplified to focus on using linework and a curated color palette to convey messages. Depending on the details in the design, this technique can be used to create a fun visual or a refreshing one.


Photo found at

  • The Use of Nature

An element you can notice in many Japanese designs is the use of things found in nature, whether it be flowers, other plants, animals, or the landscape. This really adds to the peaceful vibe that these graphics can create, while giving you a wide range of options to choose from when figuring out the content of your designs.


The “Cute” Aesthetic

A relatively new part of modern Japanese design, the “cute” aesthetic has been present in much of the East and not just Japan. You can find it in various graphic design works from logos to posters, and they offer a youthful and fun vibe that can work well for some brands in America.

If you’d like to see more examples of Japanese Graphic Design, check out Inspiration Feed’s awesome article.

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