One of the concepts related to 'Japan Cool' is kawaii, meaning cute and sweet, both as a style and a lifestyle. Kawaii can be seen as visual trademarks in fashion, manga, animé, and many other parts of popular culture
Library of Congress site with images and discussion.
"New trade agreements beginning in the 1850s resulted in an unprecedented flow of travelers and goods between Japan and the West. Western appreciation for Japanese graphic art and objects quickly intensified and Japanese-influenced style irrevocably entered the lexicon of Western artistic expression. Around the same time, exposure to the West increasingly influenced Japanese artists and audiences."
Discusses the beginning of design education in Japan. Significance of the program of the Vienna Universal Exhibition of 1873; Goal of the School of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria; Information on the creation of the Kobu Bijutsu Gakko in Tokyo in November 1876; Details of the National Exhibition in 1877.
ChimPom, a six-person collective of largely unschooled artists who have spent a lot of time getting into tight spots since the disaster, and are engagingly thoughtful about the results. Twice they have used the off-limits Dai-ichi plant as a canvas for strikingly daring video art or photography.
from The Economist.