Japanese painting (絵画, kaiga, also gadō 画道) is one of the oldest and most highly refined of the Japanese visual arts, encompassing a wide variety of genres and styles. As with the history of Japanese arts in general, the long history of Japanese painting exhibits synthesis and competition between native Japanese aesthetics and the adaptation of imported ideas, mainly from Chinese painting, which was especially influential at a number of points; significant Western influence only comes from the later 16th century onwards, beginning at the same time as Japanese art was influencing that of the West.
Areas of subject matter where Chinese influence has been repeatedly significant include Buddhist religious painting, ink-wash painting of landscapes in the Chinese literati painting tradition, calligraphy of ideographs, and the painting of animals and plants, especially birds and flowers. However, distinctively Japanese traditions have developed in all these fields. The subject matter that is widely regarded as most characteristic of Japanese painting, and later printmaking, is the depiction of scenes from everyday life and narrative scenes that are often crowded with figures and detail. This tradition no doubt began in the early medieval period under Chinese influence that is now beyond tracing except in the most general terms, but from the period of the earliest surviving works had developed into a specifically Japanese tradition that lasted until the modern period.
The official List of National Treasures of Japan (paintings) includes 162 works or sets of works from the 8th to the 19th century that represent peaks of achievement, or very rare survivals from early periods.