City life and salon culture in Kyoto and Osaka, 1770-1900

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 18 July, 2024
6:00pm BST - 7:00pm BST

In-person lecture at Norwich Cathedral Hostry and online via Zoom.
50 min lecture followed by Q&A.
Free and open to all, booking essential.
To check your time zone conversion if you are joining from outside the UK, click here.

To attend in person, please email or call +44 (0) 1603 597507 to book your place. Zoom booking available at the bottom of this page.

Doors open at 17:45. We will be hosting a reception at our exhibition the evening before, Wednesday 17 July 18:00-20:00 at the Shoe Factory – if you would like to attend, please include this in your registration email and we will add you to the guestlist. 


Dr Akiko Yano (British Museum)

About the Talk

Kyoto and Osaka in the Edo period (1603-1868) were the major cities of Japan along with Edo, present-day Tokyo, the seat of the Tokugawa shogunate. Two distinctive cities – Kyoto as the imperial capital and Osaka as the centre of national commerce – were key locales of ‘salon culture’ from the late 18th to 19th centuries. ‘Salons’ here refers to diverse types of groups and gatherings formed around artistic, literary and scholarly interests and hobbies, which were, as research thus far suggests, open to a wide range of people transcending boundaries of social status, gender, age, school, national geography and, sometimes, nationality. In the British Museum’s Japanese collection, books and prints produced from activities of haiku poetry circles and paintings created by multiple artists in collaboration are noteworthy and provide useful information for understanding this fascinating cultural phenomenon. The talk will coincide with the special display of the same title in the British Museum’s Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries (until March 2025), and the ‘Tanzaku’ exhibition organised by the Sainsbury Institute and MORIS, Kobe (17-25 July).

About the Speaker

Akiko Yano is the Mitsubishi Corporation Curator (Japanese Collections) in the Asia Dept., the British Museum (BM). She completed her PhD at Keio University, Tokyo, and specialises in Japanese painting history. Before joining the BM in 2015, she worked at SOAS University of London for two special exhibition projects with the BM, ‘Kabuki Heroes on the Osaka Stage: 1780-1830’ (2005) and ‘Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art’ (2013). She is currently conducting an international research project funded by UKRI and JSPS about ‘salon culture’ in Kyoto and Osaka in the 18th-19th centuries. A special display ongoing at the BM and a publication of a collection of essays by research members, Salon Culture in Japan: Making Art, 1750-1900 (BM Press, June 2024) are part of the project’s outcomes.


Image: Matsumura Keibun (artist) and twelve poets, Sunset Hibiscus and Begonia, before 1824. Surimono, colour woodblock print. 44.6 x 57.3 cm. British Museum, 2021,3013.262. Purchase made possible by the JTI Japanese Acquisition Fund.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

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The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.