November 2023 message from the Executive Director

Good news for those of us with Kansai affiliations as the Hanshin Tigers (we are talking baseball just in case you don’t know) won the SMBC Japan Series 2023 – the first time in 38 years. I was living in Hyogo prefecture, home to the Hanshin Tigers’ own Koshien Stadium in 1985 last time this happened and well recall the resulting outpouring of emotion. And if that is not enough to dispel the winter blues that can descend following the end of British Summer Time and the ‘putting back of the clocks’, we were further cheered by the Aurora Borealis putting on an exceptionally rare (and fine) show above East […]

Transdisciplinary dialogues in contemporary Japanese architecture and culture

A workshop at the Manchester Technology Centre, 1st November 2023. A group of 25 colleagues from the Manchester School of Architecture (MSA), joined by Julian Worrall (Professor of Architecture at the University of Tasmania), Thomas Daniell (Professor of Architectural History, Theory and Criticism at Kyoto University), Professor Adrian Favell (Professor of Social and Political Theory at University College Cork and Sainsbury Institute Professorial Associate), and representatives from the London-based Japan-related funding organisations, gathered at the Manchester Technology Centre to explore current and potential multidisciplinary research interests around the relationship between Japanese architecture and culture. The event was convened by Professor Dana Arnold of the Manchester School of Architecture and Professorial […]

Reconnections along the Silk Roads: restoring and reconstructing textiles from afar

The International Association for the Study of Silk Road Textiles: Norwich, 15-19 October 2023 Norwich was one of the great silk cities, and worsted and silk shawls produced here were an important component of the trade that underpinned the city’s wealth. It was therefore both apposite and an honour for us to host the International Association for the Study of Silk Road Textiles (IASSRT) for their first in-person post-pandemic conference. Some 40 specialists from Japan, China, Korea, the UK and many other countries gathered for two stimulating days of presentations at the Norwich Castle Museum and Norwich Cathedral, followed by study trips. The conference was preceded by an open discussion […]

Report on the talk ‘Princess Iron Fan (1941) at the Crossroads of Cultures: Chinese animation and its imprints in Japanese visual culture’

I came to this lecture with a deep affection for the Wan brothers’ beautiful film ‘Princess Iron Fan’, and a little knowledge of the relationships between Chinese and Japanese animation in the 1940s. By the time Dr. Yang finished speaking, I felt that my horizons had been expanded to include a new area of exploration – a new and broader liminal space along the borders between cultures, in which the processes of translation and appropriation were balanced and energised by a dynamic process of cross-culturalisation. This process, in which artists and production workers can both teach and learn from each other by bringing their own cultural understanding into their work […]

Digitising the Chiddingstone Castle Collection of Japanese Lacquer: a workshop report, part 2

This report explores two workshops that were carried out at Chiddingtsone Castle as part of the Ishibashi Digital Futures initiative. You can read about the first workshop, that took place back October 2022, here. The aim of this project was to digitise some of the very impressive and varied Japanese lacquer collection at Chiddingstone Castle, which is situated in a small village in Kent. Lacquer’s highly reflective finish and sometimes complex construction can be challenging to capture through photography. As such, our ten-day project digitising objects across June and August this summer was approached as an opportunity to develop some effective photographic techniques. Rachel: I joined the project while I […]