January 2021 Message from the Executive Director

あけましておめでとうございます。 On behalf of everyone at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, we wish you a very Happy New Year! We fervently hope that 2021 will be a year of recovery and rebuilding, with vaccines offering the promise of light despite the current winter gloom, beset by tightening restrictions in the UK, Japan and elsewhere. Although there remains uncertainty about what the Year of the Ox will bring, some fixed points remain. We continue with our online Third Thursday Lectures, and this month we invite you to join us to learn about Edo period iconographies with our very own Dr Matsuba Ryoko. We look forward […]

Soundscapes and a Japanese take on East Anglian archaeology

East Anglia has some of the most important archaeological sites in the country, all of which are of international significance. And yet none of them has achieved recognition through inscription as UNESCO World Heritage. They include: the earliest evidence for human occupation in northern Europe, footprints left just short of a million years ago on what is now the north Norfolk coast; exceptional Neolithic sites including the flint mines at Grimes Graves in the Brecklands; astonishingly well preserved prehistoric settlements and sacred sites  such as Flag Fen and Seahenge; striking Roman remains at Borough Castle, Caistor St Edmund and Stonea Camp; and the riches of Sutton Hoo overlooking the River […]

A book recommendation: The Hunting Gun by Inoue Yasushi

Collaboration is essential in art. To me, the last Aldeburgh Festival of Music and Art (held in 2019) had a distinct Japanese flavour. The accompanying guidebook included an essay by the Executive Director of SISJAC, Simon Kaner, exploring the relationship between Japanese and East Anglian prehistoric archaeology. The pianist Stephen Hough also played Oliver Knussen’s haunting Prayer Bell Sketch, which Knussen had composed in memory of his Japanese composer friend, Takemitsu Toru. And there was an exhibition inspired by the works of the late W. G. Sebald, who created the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT). He also supervised my research into German literature. More importantly, the festival opened with […]

Report for the talk: “Reflections on four decades of fascination with Japan” in conversation with Bill Emmott

Bill Emmott is Chair of the Japan Society of the UK. In 2016 he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun for his services to Japanese relations. He has published several books on Japan including the post-bubble best-seller The Sun Also Sets: The Limits to Japan’s Economic Power. Despite this, he still thinks of himself as ‘an accidental Japanologist’ whose interest in and knowledge of Japan is the result of his having been sent there, in 1983, as the Tokyo-based Foreign Correspondent for The Economist.  In conversation with Simon Kaner, Bill reflected on the many key moments and personal encounters that have, over the course of four decades, shaped […]