September 2020 Message from the Executive Director

The 9th day of the 9th month is celebrated in Japan as Chrysanthemum Day (重陽 chōyō), one of the five ancient festivals (節句sekku). The date is marked across East Asia, early references to the Double 9th festival appearing in Chinese sources from the first century CE. In Japan today it is an opportunity to wish for longevity, and enjoy delicacies including chrysanthemum sake and chestnut rice at temples and shrines. The chrysanthemum is of course the official flower of the Japanese Imperial family, famously if somewhat notoriously appropriated by Ruth Benedict in her influential account of Japan, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Ubiquitous chrysanthemum exhibitions (菊花展覧会 kikatenrankai) are a highlight […]

A World War Apart: Remembering the Far East POWs of Norwich on the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day

As a master’s student studying museums and cultural heritage at UEA, with a background in Japanese studies and history, I have spent the past few years researching memorials and heritage sites related to the Asia-Pacific War (1931-45) in Japan. Anyone familiar with Japan’s role in World War II will know the Asia-Pacific theatre saw several specific events which complicate the way the nation remembers its wartime identity. The pre-emptive strike against the US Navy at Pearl Harbour (1941) and atrocities committed across Asia such as the Nanjing Massacre (1937-38) and the forcing of women into prostitution, later known as ‘comfort women’, in Japanese-occupied territories portray the nation as a ruthless […]

Online Summer Programme in Japanese Cultural Studies

In July and August, the Centre for Japanese Studies at the UEA and SISJAC would typically run not one but two residential summer programmes, funded by the Toshiba International Foundation and the Ishibashi Foundation. This is no typical year, however, and unfortunately we were forced to cancel both programmes due to the ongoing pandemic. Given how valuable our participants find these programmes, we were not content offering nothing this summer and instead used this as an opportunity to try something new. We decided to run our first ever entirely online programme, taking advantage of the wealth of platforms, tools and pedagogic strategies that are available and which have become increasingly […]

Treasures of the Library: Album of animals by Seisai Yoshimura

Following a request from an animal lover to feature a book on animals, this issue introduces the book entitled “Jūrui Gafu” (Album of Animals), which is the only book dedicated to animals among the special collections in the Lisa Sainsbury Library. This book was published in the early Meiji era, the exact year is unknown, by a publisher called Ōhashidō in Tokyo. All 20 pages of the book are polychrome woodblock-print illustrations. Each page is divided into two or three panes, and one species of animal appears in each pane with its name. In total there are 51 species depicted. The front cover of the book portrays an image of […]