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July 2022 Message from the Executive Director

Joji Hirota and the London Taiko Drummers at Glemham Barns in Suffolk over the weekend at the opening of an exhibition of paintings by Emma Green. The Suffolk Sakura exhibitions will be open on Fridays and Saturdays through July and August at Galloper-Sands.

Preparations are well-advanced for a busy summer at the Sainsbury Institute. Chris Hayes and Ollie Moxham are fine-tuning the final arrangements for our 3rd Online Summer Programme in Japanese Cultural Studies, with another enthusiastic global cohort signed up for two weeks of webinars on the theme of Heritage and Tourism in Post-Lockdown Japan. And the call has gone out for volunteers to take part in a new venture for the Institute, an archaeological excavation at the Neolithic Arminghall Henge just south of Norwich. This takes place in September, in the lead-up to the opening of the exhibition Circles of Stone: Stonehenge and Prehistoric Japan at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, developed in partnership with English Heritage and supported by the Ishibashi Foundation. We are also working on a smaller exhibit for a further new display at Avebury, the largest prehistoric stone circle a short distance to the north of Stonehenge. We are pioneering some new ways of engaging with Japanese archaeologists through these projects, including a virtual hook-up with the Summer Programme in Japanese Archaeology and Heritage.

I had the opportunity to discuss all this and more in an interview with the Japan Foundation last week, which will form part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for this important organisation that has been a major supporter of the Institute since our establishment, providing generous sponsorship for a wide variety of projects, including exhibitions, conferences and publications, as well as lectureships at the University of East Anglia. We congratulate the Foundation on this anniversary, and look forward to continuing to work with you into the next half-century.

Further congratulations are due to Dr Yen-Yi Chan, our Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow from 2019-2020, for the fascinating workshop on Absence, Presence and Materiality: Refiguring Japanese Art and Culture last Friday and Saturday. Originally designed as an in-person event, Yen-Yi worked tirelessly to move it all online in a format that worked for participants in the United States, Japan and Europe, despite the time differences. We also congratulate Dr Chan on her new appointment as Assistant Professor in premodern Japanese art history, the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University. And in further news of our Fellowship, Dr Eiko Honda (Sainsbury Fellow 2020-21) will be taking up a new post in Japanese Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark following a spell at the Rachel Carsen Centre for the Environment and Society in Germany, while Dr Daria Melnikova moves to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from the new academic year.

And while we are in congratulatory mode, we were delighted to announce the winner of our 1st Undergraduate Essay Prize in Japanese Art History, Jiwoo Han of Amherst College, with her essay titled “Re-Elevation Through Exposure: How Shomei Tomatsu’s Photographs Convey and Heal Individual Trauma of the World War”. We also awarded two Sainsbury Studentships for our MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies. Congratulations to the winners, and all the applicants for each prize – it is wonderful to see such promise and enthusiasm in the next generation of Japanese Studies students.

We were fortunate enough to receive a visit from Minster Ito Takeshi, Director for Japan Information and Cultural Centre, and Matsunaga Yoshiko, First Secretary at the Embassy of Japan in the UK, on Monday 11 July. During the particularly warm day in Norwich, our guests had the opportunity to look round the institute and the wonderful collections of the Lisa Sainsbury Library, before heading over to the Sainsbury Centre to learn more about the Japanese objects in their collection. We are very grateful to Minister Ito and Secretary Matsunaga for making the trip to Norwich and look forward to more of these visits as we see a return to more in-person events and meetings.

Minster Ito Takeshi and Matsunaga Yoshiko alongside staff from the Sainsbury Institute and the University of East Anglia during their visit to the institute.

On a more sombre note, the Institute reached out to all our Japanese friends last week to express our shock at the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday. A not-uncontroversial figure, Abe’s legacy was assessed by another former Sainsbury Fellow Dr Kirsten Surak for the Guardian.

As of this month, Dr Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer takes over as Acting Director of the Sainsbury Institute as I focus on bringing a major research project to completion over the coming year. Eugenia will also be giving our July Third Thursday online lecture. In the meantime, everyone at the Sainsbury Institute joins me in sending you our best wishes for an enjoyable summer.

Professor Simon Kaner
Executive Director

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