Tokugawa Japan: The Priest

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
Third Thursday Lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 21 November, 2013
6:00pm GMT

Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room), Norwich NR1 4EH


Richard Bowring
Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge

Every Third Thursday of the month, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures hosts a lecture on a topic related to the art and culture of Japan. Talks begin at 6pm (50-minute lecture followed by refreshments). Speakers are all specialists in their field and the talks are intended to be accessible to those with no prior knowledge of Japanese history.

Admission is free and all are welcome. Booking essential.

To book a seat email us at or fax 01603 625011 up to two days before the lecture stating your name, number of seats required and a contact number. Unless indicated otherwise the lectures are held at the Norwich Cathedral Hostry (Weston Room), Norwich NR1 4EH. The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Charitable Trust.

Book seat      


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.

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

Add to iCalendar / Add to Google calendar