January 2024 message from the Executive Director

I am sure that our readers are aware of the troubled start to the New Year in Japan. Our prayers and sympathies are with all those affected by the earthquake that brought so much devastation to the lacquer-producing city of Wajima, the surrounding areas of the Noto Peninsula and much of the Japan Sea coast of central Honshu. The extent of the damage is still becoming clear at the time of writing. And this was compounded by the terrible accident at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport the following day, which saw the nigh-on miraculous escape of everyone aboard the JAL jet but the tragic loss of the lives of most of those […]

Digitising the Sword Ornament Collection at the National Museum of Scotland: A Workshop Report

From 17th – 21st July 2023, I participated in a one-week workshop led by Dr Ryoko Matsuba, Sainsbury Institute Lecturer in Japanese Digital Arts and Humanities. The aim of the workshop was to digitise tsuba鍔 (sword guard) and other sword ornament collections at the National Museum of Scotland as part of the Ishibashi Digital Futures initiative. The project commenced with the initial photography phase, during which our team meticulously configured cameras and tested various lighting setups. This stage was instrumental in perfecting our understanding of lighting conditions and their impact on capturing tsuba and sword ornaments. After the photography phase, our team gathered for a workshop to share insights and techniques […]

December 2023 message from the Executive Director

Japan continues to surprise. I write to you from Kitaakita city, famous for its World Heritage Jomon period stone circles at Isedotai, overlooking the stunning scenery of the beech-clad Shirakami mountain range straddling the border between Akita and Aomori prefectures. The automatic doors leading into my hotel have been deactivated. Why? To stop the bears who have taken to wandering the streets of the city from gaining access of course! The first major snow of the year fell a couple of days before I arrived. The white stuff has made a rare appearance in Norwich too – on the very same day as our Institute Christmas tree. We are all […]