June 2023 Message from the Acting Director

After our third bank holiday of the month here in the UK, I hope all our readers are feeling a little more rested and enjoyed the warmer weather last week.

May was a busy month for the institute. On 10th May, colleagues at the institute visited the exhibition Circles of Stone: Stonehenge and Prehistoric Japan. Setting off at the early hour of 07:00, a coach full of institute staff and students made the five-and-a-half hour long journey over to Salisbury with plenty of picnic snacks. Despite the traffic, the visit was well worth the wait as the forecast rain managed to remain distinctly absent from the trip and everyone had the chance to visit the exhibition and be guided around the site by English Heritage staff. It was an important occasion for us to see the culmination of many months of hard work by Professor Simon Kaner who worked on the exhibition. Watching visitors engage with important artefacts such as the Jōmon flame pots – something they perhaps would never have usually come across – encapsulated why the exhibition has been so important in furthering public awareness of Japanese archaeology.

Sainsbury Institute colleagues and students of the MA Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies programme were guided around the Stonehenge site by English Heritage staff before visiting the exhibition in the Visitor Centre.

After a quick stop for lunch, the team then departed for Avebury, the largest stone circle in Britain. On arrival, they celebrated the opening of a mini-exhibition at the site which explored the stone circles of Jōmon Japan – you can read more about the exhibition and further information here. Staff and students then wandered round the Avebury stone circle (accompanied by plenty of sheep) before boarding the coach back to Norwich. I would like to extend my congratulations to Simon Kaner for two excellent and important exhibitions that continue to bring prehistoric Jōmon archaeology to new and diverse audiences. We are also delighted to announce in this edition of the e-bulletin that there will be an upcoming conference related to the exhibition taking place in Salisbury at the end of August – you can read more information about the event here.

Institute staff and students also visited the opening of the mini exhibition at Avebury during their trip to Salisbury.

May also saw the final week of teaching for our MA programme in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies, with each student given the opportunity to present their final research project ideas to staff and researchers from the Sainsbury Institute and colleagues at the Centre for Japanese Studies. It has been a busy year for our students, and I would like to wish them every success as they plan and complete their final project. The Ishibashi Foundation Digital Futures project team also spent a week working on 3D modelling techniques which we look forward to bringing you more news on over the coming months. We were also delighted to host a fascinating edition of our Third Thursday Lecture series with Dr Alison Miller, current Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the institute. Her talk explored trains in 19th century woodblock prints, and traced the introduction of trains in Japan and how this affected understanding of urban space, as well as representations of a new era where infrastructure took on new significance in daily life. You can read a report on the talk by Melissa Van Wyk (Assistant Professor in Japanese Literature, University of Chicago) in this e-bulletin.

After celebrating the Lisa Sainsbury Library’s 20th anniversary last month, we are also excited to announce two new publications by Sainsbury Institute staff. Professor Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere has recently been involved in a publication with manga artist Yamazaki Mari, whose conversations on art and manga as well as more diverse topics form the basis of the book entitled 3000 Years of Human Happiness Theory – Professor Rousmaniere reflects on her first meetings with Yamazaki sensei in this month’s issue. Dr Ryoko Matsuba has also produced new translations of Hokusai’s painting tutorials and related essays written by the artist and his peers in Mad About Painting, published by David Zwirner books. An article in this e-bulletin gives further background to the project as well as some of the particular technical details related to the translation of the texts.

Continuing on the theme of Hokusai this month, our June Third Thursday Lecture will be given by Dr Sarah E. Thompson, curator of Japanese art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and currently curator of Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence on show at the MFA. Her talk, Drawings by Hokusai and His Students at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will explore some of the most interesting drawings by Hokusai and his students that are held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and which have only recently started to be studied. We hope many of you will be able to join us online for this lecture later this month. This month will also see the opening of the exhibition Worlds Within at the The Alison Richard Building in Cambridge, part of an ethnographic research project by previous Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow Iza Kavedžija to explore the creative practices of seven contemporary artists and makers from Osaka, Japan. The exhibition will run between 2 June 2023 – 7 July 2023 – find out more about the exhibition and its themes here.

I will be busy this month with preparations for a trip to Amsterdam as part of the Ishibashi Foundation Digital Futures project where, with a group of early career researchers, we will be exploring the Stedelijk Museum archives and participating in the Young Scholars’ Symposium in Asian art at the Rijksmuseum.

With best wishes,

Dr Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer
Acting Director