February 2021 Message from the Executive Director

As I write, much of East Anglia is blanketed in snow, courtesy of Storm Darcy. From the depths of this gloomiest of winters we are warmed by the news of the rollout of vaccines which, along with the rest of the world, we hope heralds at last the beginning of the end of this terrible pandemic. The Sainsbury Institute continues to busy itself with research, and increasingly with teaching, albeit online and from home, looking forward of course to the day when we can re-engage in person with our friends, research partners and students in Japan, the UK and so many other places. The team continues to keep in regular […]

Thoughts on the popularity of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba in Japan

In 2020, people in Japan who should have been welcoming the much-anticipated Olympic games experienced severe difficulty and the disappointment of the Covid-19 pandemic, much like the rest of the world. Amid all of this, what ended up replacing the Olympics as the central topic of conversation, and captivated the nation’s hearts, was the manga and anime, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Popularly referred to as Kimetsu, it first appeared as manga, and was then serialised for TV as anime. But it was when it hit the cinemas in October 2020 as an animated feature film that it became a surprise hit. Soon after the film opened, the media in Japan started reporting on the number of viewing figures and its unprecedented upward trajectory every day. By the end of the year, it had become the highest grossing film ever in Japan.   Kimetsu follows a boy whose family is slaughtered by demons and who becomes a demon slayer in order to turn his […]

Report for the talk “Online Lecture: Edo Iconography Reading Popular Prints in Early Modern Japan”

Dr Matsuba Ryoko, Senior Digital Humanities Officer at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) presented the first online lecture of 2021 on the complex theme of Edo-period iconography in popular woodblock prints and printed books. Working in close collaboration with Ritsumeikan University’s Art Research Center, Dr Matsuba has led ambitious digitisation projects in Japan, America and Europe. Most recently she co-ordinated the digital strand of the AHRC-funded ‘Late Hokusai: Thought, Technique, Society’ research project, and co-curated the British Museum’s ‘Manga’ exhibition. This wealth of experience makes Dr Matsuba the authority in her subject specialism: Edo-period woodblock prints and Japanese visual culture. In her online […]