May 2021 Message from the Executive Director

With the wisteria above my front door about to burst into blossom, I recall many happy visits to gardens and parks in Japan at this time of year, and amid the less cheery news stories noted that the 150 year-old wisteria (fuji 藤 in Japanese) in the Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi prefecture bloomed early this year. In its full glory, over 80,000 purple blossoms cascade down over those lucky enough to get to experience it in person, from its immense canopy, extending over 1000 square metres, and visitors also get to enjoy the fabulous wisteria tunnels, with pink, white and yellow blossoms. Here in East Anglia we are preparing […]

Report on the joint talk “The Art of Rice”

Contemporary rice-inspired art, as well as the need for stewardship of rice paddies and their culture, formed the basis for this visually and conceptually rich pair of talks by Dr. Christine Guth, author and distinguished historian of Japanese art and design, and artist Isao Miura, originally from Akita prefecture in northern Japan and now based in London.  Chris Beckett, poet and translator, and Dr Veronica Sekules, director of GroundWork Gallery in Kings Lynn, West Norfolk, where Miura’s paintings currently feature in an exhibition entitled “Japan Water”, also spoke in connection with Miura’s presentation. Professor Guth spoke about “The Art of Rice in Inakadate, Japan”. Inakadate is a village of 8000 […]

Divergent heritages? UNESCO and the cultural heritage of landscapes in the UK and Japan

In February 2019 I travelled to Japan in part to attend a conference about the potential inscription onto the World Heritage List of Amanohashidate, a landscape with a beautiful sand bar separating two bays, Miyazu and Ine, on the Sea of Japan. The relationship between the sandbar and its surrounding cultural heritage, and with the works of art that portray it, create a continuum of meaning. It is a site of worship, reverence and of contemplation. It is also a classic landscape in that it privileges the view(s) of a special place. As with many places, including for instance Fuji, in Japan the landscape is sacred in both Shintō and […]