Japanese Society and Culture


Everyday Aesthetics, Cultural Metonymy, Perceptual Complexity, Language use, Cultural Gatekeepers

Received Date


Revised Date


Accepted Date


Publication Date



The current study draws on Saito’s (2007) application to western context of the Japanese practice of appreciating the aesthetic and ethical aspects of everyday objects, examined through the complexity of aesthetic evaluation. Bourdieu’s (1984a) moderating variable cultural capital is used to advance an understanding of perceptual and linguistic complexity in daily aesthetic consumption. By engaging participants in a quasi-experiment of multi-sensory trials of everyday products (lemon squeezers), an examination was made of how language use reveals embodied knowledge of daily consumption practice. As the participants’ volumes of cultural capital increased, there was a greater tendency to categorize the stimuli according to their formal aspects and use more complex language derived from decorative, ethical and artistic schema. Thus, the logic of everyday aesthetic practice appears to be contingent on contextualized interaction. This research is followed with a discussion of how such inclinations relate to Japanese aesthetic practices in everyday life, by considering the influence of intercultural exchanges and the actions of cultural gatekeepers in Japan and abroad during the development of aestheticized Japanese cultural metonymy in the post-Meiji Restoration era. Further, some discussion is made of the parallel development of the aestheticization of daily practices in Japan and European contexts, and how this likely influenced the cultural context of the research is made. Finally, some of the challenges of instituting an everyday aesthetic as an antidote to the problems generated by mass-consumption society are discussed.