October 2021 Message from the Executive Director

Rinpa school, Folding Screen with Design of Autumn Flowers, early Edo period (c. 17thC), Tokyo Fuji Art Museum

We were delighted to welcome many friends back to the Cathedral Hostry for our first in-person Third Thursday Lecture last month (read a report of the talk by Dr Maumita Banerjee, one of our new Robert & Lisa Sainsbury Fellows here), as we adjust to the further relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions. We will be continuing to live-stream these talks so that our global audience can continue to join us. We are looking forward to our October lecture, by another of our current Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellows, Dr Eiko Honda.

September’s Third Thursday Lecture by Dr Charlotte Linton.

Along with so many others, at the Sainsbury Institute we have all become accustomed to attending online conferences over the past eighteen months. For this month’s e-bulletin, Eiko, our Librarian, Hirano Akira, and Andy Hutcheson, Research Fellow in our Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, each reflect on a major European conference they attended in this way in September: the European Association for Japanese Studies (which meets once every three years, and was originally to have been held in Gent, Belgium, and deferred from 2020), the European Association of Japan Resource Specialists (which meets in a different European city each autumn, and this year was held in a hybrid format from St Petersburg), and the European Association of Archaeologists (again held annually this autumn, and this year organised just online from Kiel in Germany). Participating in conferences such as these is an important part of the academic activity of the Institute, and despite the exceptional functionality of the software platforms used, including chat rooms, and the advantages of being able to attend without travelling, we are all too aware of the lack of in-person networking that is such an important aspect of these meetings.

As the evenings draw in and the autumn colours brighten the Cathedral Close, we are re-inhabiting our beautiful building at Number 64. Our second cohort of students on our MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies have some of their seminars here, and we are reopening the Lisa Sainsbury Library to researchers (as usual, on appointment with our Librarian). We have had our first in-person staff meetings (again thanks to Zoom being joined by colleagues in Japan and the United States). We were all pleased to see the State of Emergency lifted in Japan and look forward to being able to resume visits in both directions.

Last week we welcomed the Trustees of the British Museum to Norwich, in celebration of the close relationship between the British Museum and the excellent Castle Museum here in Norwich which is undergoing a major refurbishment. The Trustees were also able to visit the Sainsbury Centre and took in the exhibition we have co-curated, Leiko Ikemura: Usagi in Wonderland, after stopping by the Cathedral to see Dippy the Dinosaur who has been attracting huge crowds over the summer. Earlier that week I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum – about which we will hear more at our December Third Thursday.

This weekend Japan celebrates Dogu Day: watch out for some special posts on that as part of our Online Jomon Matsuri. Next month we will have a special focus on twenty years of the Sainsbury Institute in the Cathedral Close. Until then, I hope you continue to stay safe and well.

In closing, we were greatly saddened to hear the news of the passing of Dr Muto Junko, our Handa Fellow in Japanese Art History from 2001-2002 , specialist in the study of ukiyo-e. We send our condolences to her friends and family.

Professor Simon Kaner
Executive Director

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