WWII, Japan and the Gardens

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 21 December, 2017
6:00pm GMT

Weston Room, Norwich Cathedral Hostry, Norwich NR1 4EH


Professor Toshio Watanabe (Sainsbury Institute and University of the Arts, London)

About the Speaker

Toshio Watanabe is Professor for Japanese Arts and Cultural Heritage at Sainsbury Institute, University of East Anglia and Professor of History of Art and Design at the University of the Arts London (UAL). He was the Founding Director of the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN) at UAL (2004-2015). His research has explored how the arts of different places and culture intermingle and affect each other. His publications include High Victorian Japonisme (1991. Society for the Study of Japonisme Prize), Japan and Britain: An Aesthetic Dialogue 1850-1930 (1991, Japanese edition 1992, co-edited), and Ruskin in Japan 1890-1940: Nature for art, art for life (1997, Japan Festival Prize and Gesner Gold Award). He is currently working among others on modern Japanese garden in a transnational context.

About the Talk

In this talk the relationships between World War II, Japan and the gardens are explored with a number of specific examples, many of them unfamiliar even to specialists in Japanese gardens. First, we will look into what happened during the World War II. One might think a period of war is not a time for creating new gardens, but this is not so. Three such examples from Japan, Hong Kong and the USA will be introduced. However, after the war many more gardens have been and are still created as a way of remembering the war. When we encounter many of these gardens, it becomes clear that the nature of the memory is very diverse. Some are commemorating victory against Japan, some are emphasising their own victimhood and in others the message is a push for peace. All of them seem to include at least some kind of memory of sacrifice. The diversity doesn’t stop with why these gardens were created but also how these gardens are experienced. Examples will be shown from across the world.

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