The Sainsbury Institute was delighted to welcome His Excellency Mr Hajime Hayashi, Ambassador of Japan to the UK, to Norwich on Friday 25 February. He was greeted by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Kevin MacGuire, the Sheriff of Norwich, Caroline Jarrold, and the Dean of Norwich Cathedral, the Very Reverend Jane Hedges, and met the Institute’s staff and fellows before a tour of Norwich Cathedral with the Canon Librarian, Reverend Peter Doll. Later in the day the Ambassador visited the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia, and then gave an address to the participants at the British Association for Japanese Studies – Japan Foundation Postgraduate Workshop in Japanese Studies, joining them and other Japan-related colleagues from the University for a sake and sushi reception. We are very grateful to Rie Yoshitake and Sake Samurai for providing the sake. The event was introduced by the Vice Chancellor and President of UEA, Professor David Richardson.
The day before, we welcomed current Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship holders and alumni to the Sainsbury Institute, for their first in person meeting since the pandemic began. They joined Institute staff and the broader UEA Japan community for our spring Centre for Japanese Studies reception, with our Board Member and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Arts and Humanities, Professor Sarah Barrow, giving the welcome speech. The following Saturday saw a Discover Japan day at the Forum in the city centre, with many Japanese students participating in offering a taste of Japan to the people of Norwich, with calligraphy, Japanese classes and much more, all supported by the Japan Foundation’s Sakura Network, which UEA joined several years ago. The new Director of the Japan Foundation in London, Mr Shoji Yoshida took the opportunity to visit Norwich for the first time, and we were also pleased to welcome colleagues from the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. Altogether the three days of activities demonstrated that Norwich holds a very special place for Japan. With over 80 postgraduate students from all over the UK and beyond joining us for the workshops, it is clear that there is a great appetite for the advanced study of Japan in the UK, and we hope that the Japanese government will act quickly to allow students and young researchers to enter the country again as soon as possible, lifting the pandemic-related entry restrictions that have prevented them from doing so.
We will be further celebrating links between Norwich and Japan by planting flowering cherry trees in a number of locations in the city, in the Cathedral Close near the Institute, and on the University Campus. This is part of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project that has seen over 7000 sakura桜 trees planted around the UK over the last couple of years. We look forward to many hanami (花見blossom-viewing) parties in years to come.
In this month’s e-bulletin Dr Clare Pollard of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford reflects on the exceptional exhibition on Tokyo: Art and Photography that concluded in January. The exhibition video linked to this article may be some compensation to those of you who were not able to get to see the exhibition itself. One of our current Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship holders, Emma Kiey, who is studying on our MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies, discusses our February lecture on Matsuki Bunkyo and Edward Morse. Our Third Thursday Online Lecture this month is by our former Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow Dr Daria Melnikova – and I hope you will be able to join us for what promises to be a fascinating exploration of the role of modern dance in Japan’s engagement with the world in the 1910s and 1920s.
I cannot end this month’s greeting without reference to the appalling and distressing situation in Ukraine. One can but hope that peace and good sense will eventually prevail – and I know we are all thinking of everyone affected by these terrible events.
Professor Simon Kaner
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