After the Ōnin War (1467 - 1477), Japan entered a period of a social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長; 1534 - 1582) was the first man to unify all of Japan, and thus the first ruler of all Japan since the Ōnin War. He built extensive gardens and castles which were themselves great works of art. Azuchi Castle on the shores of Lake Biwa is said to have been the greatest castle in the history of Japan, covered with gold and statues on the outside and decorated with standing screen, sliding door, wall, and ceiling paintings made by his subject Kanō Eitoku (狩野 永徳; 1543 - 1590) on the inside.
The history of kabuki began in 1603 when Izumo no Okuni, possibly a miko of Izumo Taisha, began performing a new style of dance drama in the dry riverbeds of Kyoto.
During this time, Nobunaga's subject and tea master Sen no Rikyū (千利休; 1522 - 1591) established the Japanese tea ceremony which Nobunaga popularized and used originally as a way to talk politics and business. The beginnings of modern kabuki (歌舞伎) were started and later fully developed in the early Edo period. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉; 1537 - 1598) succeeded Nobunaga. He was born of no traceable samurai lineage, and had been given the nickname Kozaru (小猿), meaning "little monkey", from his lord Oda Nobunaga because his facial features and skinny form resembled that of a monkey, but using his talents, he finally attained the Kampaku (関白, the title of both first secretary and regent who assists an adult emperor), and naturally he fancied for flamboyancy. Inspired by the dazzling Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, he also constructed a fabulous portable tea room, covered with gold leaf and lined inside with red gossamer.
The Jōmon pottery were distinguished themselves form contemporaneous any other vessels in the world; an artistic interest of Jōmon Japanese overwhelmed a practical utility.
The Kyoto nobility in the Heian period developed a society devoted to elegant aesthetic pursuits.
During the period under the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate rule, a profound change took place in Japanese culture.
In the Edo period, a style of woodblock prints called ukiyo-e became a major art form and its techniques were fine tuned to produce colorful prints.
The introduction of Western cultural values led to a dichotomy in Japanese art, as well as in nearly every other aspect of culture, between traditional values and attempts to duplicate and assimilate a variety of clashing new ideas.
Japanese aesthetics, in its nature covers a broad spectrum in comparison with the explicit formulation of 'aesthetics' in the Western sense, and is seen as an integral part of daily life.
The Higashiyama Period (東山時代) also known as the period of "Higashiyama Culture" or Higashiyama Bunka (東山文化?), is a segment of Japanese culture originated and promoted in the 15th century by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, after he retired to his villa in the eastern hills (Higashiyama) of Kyoto.