Index to Resources

Text Essays

Teacher Resources

Teacher resources include lesson plans in the visual arts, language arts, social studies and history, and science and suggestions for reading, links to other web sites, and DVD viewing ideas.

The Nature of the Beast

In their training, Japanese artists of the Edo period probably learned to draw and paint birds or insects or monkeys using traditional models, which meant that they copied the work of their teachers over and over until they could make perfect copies of their master’s work. Some artists, however, probably spent time observing animals in their natural habitat. Not only did they render the animals realistically, but they also show natural animal behaviors such as courtship displays, care of young, and feeding.

Artists also worked within the long Japanese tradition of showing imaginary animals and mythological stories. These mythological animals reflected stories that had been handed down for many years within Japanese and other Asian societies.

The artworks in the USC Pacific Asia Museum ’s collections give students the opportunity to take a look at some of the finest works that Japanese artists have produced. The three traditions explored in the Nature of the Beast online exhibit resonate with students’ interest in animals and also with the artistic processes used by these extraordinary artists.

  1. Being Brave Lower Elementary, SRA Open Court connection (Language Arts, Visual Arts)
  2. Simple Sumi-e Painting Lower an Middle Elementary (Visual Art)
  3. Create Your Own Crypto-Zoo Middle Elementary (Language Arts, Visual Arts)
  4. Observing Nature Elementary to Middle School (Science and Visual Art)
  5. Tradition, Reality, Imagination High School (Visual Art)


A full glossary of related terms (includes the underlined terms throughout the Text Essays). This glossary can be adapted by teachers as a vocabulary list.


Edo Period Timeline and Details

Captions & Credits

Image captions & credits for all objects on the site, including links to larger versions of each image.

Additional Resources

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