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January 2023 Message from the Acting Director

Paul Madden CMG delivered December’s Third Thursday Lecture to an in-person audience on UEA campus.

I would like to wish a very Happy New Year of the Rabbit to all of our readers as we enter 2023. The Year of the Rabbit is thought to bring more calm and balance after last year’s Year of the Tiger, and we hope it will be a healthy and productive one!

We ended last year with an in-person Third Thursday Lecture, given by Paul Madden CMG and held on UEA campus. It was a pleasure to welcome Paul to Norwich, where he first gave a seminar to students about the idiosyncrasies of international diplomacy, before delivering a fascinating talk that gave a tour of Japan from a geographical perspective – you can read a report on the talk in this issue and watch the recording here. The talk was followed by a festive reception with sake and mince pies for attendees, and it was a very welcome opportunity to reconnect with friends, colleagues and supporters after a year of predominantly online lectures.

I am also delighted to announce that our second Sainsbury Institute Occasional Paper, Okinawan Art in its Regional Context: Historical Overview and Contemporary Practice, has now been published and is available as an e-book on the Sainsbury Institute website. The culmination of the proceedings of a conference held in 2019, the papers bring together a range of scholarship on the art and culture of Okinawa, and discuss some of the social, political and historical contexts that have contributed to this. I would like to extend my congratulations to Dr Eriko Tomizawa-Kay for bringing this publication together, along with all the editors and contributors of the volume.

Michie Nakamura, current student of the MA Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies programme, also provides a report in this issue on the workshop “Re-thinking Japonisme: Digitisation of the V&A’s Collection of Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints and Illustrated Books and Researching Its Formation in the Late 19th Century”, run as a collaboration between the V&A, the Art Research Center at Ritsumeikan University (ARC) and the Sainsbury Institute. The workshop, now in its second year, offers postgraduate students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience of handling and digitising Japanese materials while also aiming to make such collections more accessible for study and research.

Looking forward to the coming months, the conference Crosscurrents of Courtly Exchange is now in the final stages of preparation and is set to be an important exploration of the Japanese objects in the Royal Collection. The annual conference for the UK-Japan 21st Century Group is also being held in Norwich this year, and the Sainsbury Institute is delighted to be hosting attendees at The Close on the opening evening of the conference. It is a pleasure to see so many vibrant and high profile events related to Japan and Japanese Studies planned for the year ahead.

Our Third Thursday Lecture will be moving back online for our January edition, which will be given by Dr Joshua Frydman, Assistant Professor of Japanese, University of Oklahoma and author of the recent publication The Japanese Myths: A Guide to Gods, Heroes and Spirits. The talk will explore the nature of Japanese mythology through the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, and highlight how, contrary to perceptions of mythology in the English-speaking world as a distant, static and past system of reference, that Japanese mythology is in fact embedded into contemporary culture and continually evolving and adapting. We are very much looking forward to the talk and hope that many of you will be able to join us.

As we embark on the new year, I would like to express my gratitude to our readers for their support and hope that 2023 brings more opportunities to meet and engage with our partners, networks and friends.

With very best wishes,

Dr Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer
Acting Director

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