Issue 04 August 2013

Dear Friends and supporters of the Sainsbury Institute,  We are delighted to deliver the fourth edition of our e-magazine from Norwich. In this issue we feature several articles that show the relevance of our archaeology and heritage research strand. Simon Kaner, Head of the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, spoke with Professor Kobayashi Tatsuo, leading archaeologist of Japan’s Jomon period and Senior Advisor to the Institute. They discussed the role of the Sainsbury Institute in promoting Japanese archaeology in the UK. Dr Kaner also reported on a workshop organized at the University of Tübingen on the archaeology of religion and ritual. Nishioka Keiko’s articles on the meanings of Japanese holidays […]

Fellows at the Sainsbury Institute

Karen Fraser Assistant Professor at Santa Clara University in California; Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow (2007-08) I vividly remember the cool, overcast afternoon that greeted me when I landed at Heathrow in August 2007. It was a welcome change from the sultry heat of New York City, where I had just spent several weeks en route from my home in California, and it left me feeling energized despite the jetlag. It was an auspicious beginning to what would turn out to be an action-packed and fruitful year based at SOAS in London as a Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow offered by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts […]

Custom and Culture: Japanese National Holidays

July, August and September In the last issue we looked at ‘Golden Week’, a period from late April to early May of concentrated national holidays and non-working days. This issue sees the final instalment of our national holiday series, when we will have described all 15 holidays laid down in the Public Holiday Law. As you will have noticed, each day commemorates something different, but I think that there is a common theme – gratitude and respect for nature and for each other, young and old. There could hardly be a better way to remember the importance of both than to celebrate them together as a nation and take a […]

Institute and the Community

The Eternal Idol: Contemporary Photography Exhibition of Kuwashima Tsunaki The Institute worked on a large AHRC funded project in 2009 to 2011 examining dogū, or clay figurines, from the prehistoric Neolithic culture of Japan. From this project, new links were developed including that with the award-winning photographer Kuwashima Tsunaki whose works were displayed at Gallery 18/21 in Norwich at the same time of the exhibition unearthed at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. He celebrates his first UK solo exhibition in London this summer and the Institute is pleased to host a special lecture delivered by the artist at the Institute on 21 August. This issue explores the world of Kuwashima Tsunaki and his […]

The Sainsbury Institute Abroad

Japanese and European Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Workshop in Tübingen From the window of the Lord’s Chamber (Fürstenzimmer), up in the castle tower overlooking the ancient university town of Tübingen, there is a wonderful view out over the Swabian Jura, cradle of European art. Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen is home to a thriving department of East Asian Studies and also to one of the most distinguished centres of archaeology in Germany. Aurel Stein, pioneering and controversial explorer of the Silk Road studied here, as did Maria Gimbutas who revolutionised the study of prehistoric figurines with her theories about the ancient goddesses of ‘old’ Europe, ideas which informed the Sainsbury […]

Museums in Japan

Idemitsu Museum of Art The Idemitsu Museum of Art is one of the most highly regarded private museums in Japan. Located in the heart of Tokyo’s prestigious Marunouchi business district, the serene gallery space showcases some of the rarest and most representative collections of East Asian antiques and provides a splendid view of the Imperial Palace ground. Its outstanding collection amassed by Idemitsu Sazo (1885-1981), founder of Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd and the Museum, over the course of 70 years, counts around 15,000 objects, including two works designated as National Treasures and 54 items as Important Cultural Properties. The Museum is world famous for its outstanding Japanese paintings, calligraphy and East […]

Interview with Founders and Staff

Professor Kobayashi Tatsuo Professor Kobayashi Tatsuo is Senior Advisor on archaeology to the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. He began his career with the Agency for Cultural Affairs (Bunkacho) before returning to his alma mater, Kokugakuin University in Tokyo, where he is now Emeritus Professor in Tokyo. Closely involved with the establishment of a new generation of archaeology museums around Japan, and himself Founding (and now Honorary) Director of the Niigata Prefectural Museum of History, Professor Kobayashi is the most distinguished archaeologist of the Jomon. In 2009 he was Sotheby’s Senior Scholar at the Sainsbury Institute. In April 2013 a group of twenty or so […]

Treasures of the Library

The map introduced in this issue, the Iaponiae Insvlae Descriptio map, is the earliest European rendition of Japan that depicts the state with a fair level of exactitude. It is by Luís Teisera, a celebrated Portuguese cartographer who was backed by the Spanish court. In 1595 the Dutchman Abraham Ortelius published a map based on Teisera’s drawing inAdditamentum Quintum, Theatri Orbis Terrarum; the first edition of this atlas appeared in 1570. The map accurately plots various Japanese towns and their locations in Roman letters, and suggests that it was founded on information sent to Europe by Jesuits in Japan. In fact, although Teisera was a Jesuit, he himself never set […]