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Behind the Scenes with Simon Kaner


Welcome to our autumn e-magazine. I am writing this at 30,000 feet high above the Great Pannonian Plain with the River Danube snaking through the field and forests far below, on my way home from a workshop organised by the European Association of Japanese Studies hosted by the University of Belgrade at which twenty PhD students from across Europe presented their doctoral projects for scrutiny by their peers and four ‘senior advisors’, of which I was invited to be one. An extraordinary range of subjects was on offer, from hard-nosed linguistics to the softer skills involved in hostessing and hosting in Tokyo’s bars, via contemporary fiction, art history, sports and much more. All most encouraging as we move towards launching new Japan-related postgraduate programmes of our own here in Norwich in conjunction with the University of East Anglia.

Developing such programmes was very close to the heart of the great champion of Japanese Studies in the UK, Sir Hugh Cortazzi, who passed away on August 14. Sir Hugh and his wife, Lady Elizabeth, have been the greatest of friends to the Sainsbury Institute since its establishment in 1999, and his loss is keenly felt. An Honorary Graduate of UEA (2006), Sir Hugh and Lady Elizabeth often visited Norwich, and readers may well recall the fascinating lectures he gave on early maps of Japan, one of his many passions. The walls of 64 The Close are adorned by examples from his collection, and we were honoured to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Lisa Sainsbury Library, where his maps and so many of the wonderful volumes on Japan collected by Hugh over the years are now held, with a special exhibition of his maps at the Embassy of Japan in London a few years ago. You can read a personal appreciation of Sir Hugh by our greatly esteemed Librarian, Akira Hirano, elsewhere in this issue. We were also greatly saddened to hear of the death of Raymond Frostick, who through his role on the University Council and his involvement in the British Map Association, was a great supporter of the Institute.

As former British Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Japan, Sir Hugh would doubtless have appreciated the exemplary diplomacy so consummately expressed by His Excellency Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka during his frank and engaging talk, delivered as our 200th Third Thursday Lecture.

I hope you enjoy Jane Emerson’s report on the event. Jane expertly project managed what was undoubtedly one of our more complex logistical occasions.


The Third Thursday Lectures continue to be our flagship public events, and I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank our wonderful sponsors, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK, as well as all of our speakers and audiences – who make what we know as the TTL’s such a success. We look forward to welcoming a colleague from the National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (Tobunken) to deliver the November lecture: Miwako Hayashi provides a summary of the important project we have with Tobunken on collecting information on Japanese arts and cultures-related activities around the world.

Over the summer we issued our Annual Report for 2016-17 which contains many more details about the activities of the Institute, and this autumn we launch our new-look website alongside our new Digital Japan research strand, which debued at the mini-festival at the Forum in conjunction with the 200th TTL. Many thanks to everyone at the Sainsbury Institute for all their hard work in bringing all this to you, as well as delivering our programmes with such aplomb.

Do let us know if you find the contents of the e-magazine of interest (or indeed not!). We are constantly looking to refine what we offer. Happy reading and I look forward to seeing you at our future events.

Professor Simon Kaner
Executive Director

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