Tokugawa Japan: Ideologies in Conflict

Event - Sainsbury Institute

Friday 8 November, 2013 - Thursday 21 November, 2013

Toshiba Lectures in Japanese Art and Science


Richard Bowring (Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge)

8 November | 6.15pm
The Confucian Scholar
Stevenson Lecture Theatre, The British Museum
Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

13 November | 6.15pm
The Sinophobe
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS
Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

21 November | 6pm | Third Thursday Lecture
The Priest
Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room)
Norwich NR1 4EH

About the Lecture

Japan in the Tokugawa period (1603–1868) was one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world, a situation that arose when the military rulers decided to isolate samurai from the land and corral them into castle towns. Despite the fact that this was in essence a militarised society, an artistic and literary culture emerged that has proved to be a source of fascination for many. Unpredictable censorship did not deter the growth of an intellectual environment in which economic, social and cultural concerns were debated with vigour and passion. In these lectures Professor Bowring explores a wide range of intellectual responses to this new world, from scholars who were wedded to Chinese Confucian ideas to those for whom China was the source of everything that was wrong with Japan, while not forgetting the continued presence of Shinto and Buddhist priests, who had their own particular concerns.

About the Speaker

Richard Bowring is Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge. He has written on a wide variety of topics ranging from Murasaki Shikibu in the tenth century to Mori Ogai in the nineteenth. More recently his interests have moved from literature to the history of religion and thought, the fruits of which appeared in 2005 in the shape of The Religious Traditions of Japan, 500–1600. He is now preparing the second volume of this history, which deals with intellectual currents during the Tokugawa period.


The Toshiba Lectures in Japanese Art and Culture provide a public platform for a senior scholar of Japanese studies to present a research project which is already well-developed in a series of three lectures to a broad public audience. To mark the 10th Toshiba Lectures Series, a commemorative reception will follow after each lecture where members of the audience are all welcome.

Admission free. All welcome. Places are limited and seats are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis on the night. For further information, contact the Sainsbury Institute at: 64 The Close, Norwich NR1 4DH | T: 01603 597507 }

The lectures are generously sponsored by the Toshiba International Foundation (TIFO), and in association with the Sainsbury Institute, the British Museum, SOAS, the Japan Society and Japan 400.

Image: Totō Tenjin (detail). Late 15th century, artist unknown. Inscription by Banri Shūku, hanging scroll with ink and colour on silk. Donated by Sir William Gwynne-Evans. 1913,0501,0.38 ©The Trustees of the British Museum

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