June 2021 Message from the Executive Director

The wettest May on record just is behind us here in the UK and the rainy season (tsuyu) came early to Japan this year. There is something exhilarating about the downpours that mark the northern limits of the Asian monsoons, rendering even more vivid the colours of the irises and hydrangeas that characterise early summer gardens across Japan. Visiting gardens at this time is both enjoyable and restorative, and is a surefire way of enhancing one’s sense of well-being. Even with encouraging news about the ‘rollout’ of vaccines and the relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions, we could all do with a well-being booster shot. We are reminded by the ongoing issues […]

Faces of Faith: Early Japanese Religious Statuary at the Sainsbury Centre

Date: 18th June – 3rd October 2021 It is said that 1,400 years ago a giant of Japanese history passed away, leaving behind a legacy which defined the formation of a nation. In bringing Buddhism to the Japanese courts, Prince Regent Shōtoku Taishi came to power through his marriages to the daughters of the Empress Suiko and ushered in a new era of faith, politics and artistic expression which laid the foundation for the nation state. Now, as museums across Japan commemorate this anniversary, the Sainsbury Centre presents its fascinating collection of rare Buddhist and Shinto artefacts to celebrate the UK-Japan season of culture and invites you to step in […]

Report on the joint talk “Visual story-telling of the Matagi hunters of Tōhoku”

With the increasing popularity of animal rights groups, some historical cultural practices have been challenged in the past few decades. Practices such as Spanish Bull Fighting and the Ainu Iyomante, or bear sacrifice ceremony, are being challenged by modern activist groups. These groups may wish to promote and defend animal rights, but they are also endangering traditional, cultural practices. Inspired by the preservation of controversial cultural practices, Javier Corso and Alex Rodal made it their mission to seek out disappearing traditions and learn about them. In 2017, Corso and Rodal traveled to Tohoku, Japan, to do just this. May’s Third Thursday lecture, “Visual Storytelling of Matagi Hunters of Tohoku,” explored […]