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Nara to Norwich: An Afternoon of Discussions and Presentations

土曜日 25 5月, 2024
2:00pm BST - 5:00pm BST

Tickets available through the Norfolk and Norwich Festival website here.

The origins of Buddhism and Christianity are found in south and west Asia respectively, but both religions spread in the centuries following the deaths of their founders finding new centres of faith in central Asia and southern Europe under the Kushan (1st–3rd centuries AD), Roman (27 BC–5th century AD) and Han empires (206 BC–AD 220). It was from these regions that the religions were then taken further, to the edges of Asia and Europe—to Nara and Norwich.

This afternoon of talks and discussions will focus on the themes of the project Nara to Norwich: Arts and Beliefs at the Ends of the Silk Roads, AD 500–1000 – an international, collaborative research project that aims to explore the Silk Roads beyond their current limits of the Chinese and post-Roman worlds. This is in association with the exhibition held at The Forum Monday 20th – Saturday 25th May on the same theme.


13:30-13:40: Shōmyō performance by Karyōbinga Shōmyō Kenkyūkai.

13:45: Doors open.

14:00-14:15: Nara to Norwich: an introduction. Professor Simon Kaner and Professor Susan Whitfield.

14:15-14:45; The conversion to Christianity in East Anglia. Professor Katy Cubitt.

14:45-15:15: Early Buddhism in Japan. Professor Richard Bowring.

15:15-15:30: Break.

15:30-16:30: Roundtable discussion moderated by Professor Christopher Scull (Richard Bowring, Katy Cubitt, Simon Kaner, Susan Whitfield, Neil Price).

16:45-16:55: Shōmyō performance by Karyōbinga Shōmyō Kenkyūkai.


Professor Richard Bowring was Keidanren Professor of Japanese at the University of Cambridge, and Master of Selwyn College. His publications include The Religious Traditions of Japan 500-1600 and In Search of the Way: Thought and Religion in Early-Modern Japan, 1582–1860. He is currently a member of the editorial board of Brill’s multi-volume Encyclopedia of Buddhism.

Professor Katy Cubitt is Professor Emerita in the School of History at the University of East Anglia. Katy’s research focuses on the religious culture of early medieval Europe, particularly on the history of the English church from 600-1066.  She also has interests in international connections of the English church, with the contemporary Frankish kingdoms, and in the history of the early medieval papacy and of the Mediterranean world in the seventh century. She is currently finishing a monograph on penance in early medieval England from 900-1066, entitled Sin and Society in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century.  She is a co-editor of the Silk Roads issue of The Historian.

Professor Simon Kaner is Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, where he is also Head of the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage. He is concurrently Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia. His publications include An Illustrated Companion to Japanese Archaeology.

Professor Neil Price is Distinguished Professor of Archaeology at Uppsala University in Sweden. His new initiative, the Centre for the World in the Viking Age is exploring Norse connections into Asia. His recent publications include Children of Ash and Elm: a history of the Vikings (Penguin Books, 2020).

Professor Christopher Scull is a researcher specialising in the archaeology of early English society, and has published widely on the subject. He is academic lead on investigation of the palace site at Rendlesham, Suffolk, which is recorded in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People as a place of royal baptism in the 7th century. The results will be published later this year in the monograph: Lordship and Landscape in East Anglia AD 400–800: the Royal Centre at Rendlesham, Suffolk, and its Contexts.

Professor Susan Whitfield is Professor of Silk Road Studies at the University of East Anglia. She is on the Council of the Royal Asiatic Society. Her publications include The Silk Roads : Peoples, Landscapes, CulturesLife along the Silk Road, and Silk, Slaves and StupasMaterial Cultures of the Silk Road.

This event forms part of the Japan in Norwich programme, celebrating 25 years of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.

Nara to Norwich: An Afternoon of Discussions and Presentations is a Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures presentation, programmed by the Sainsbury Institute.

The Nara to Norwich exhibition and associated research project is generously sponsored by the Toshiba International Foundation. This exhibition and associated events are also generously supported by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, the Japan Foundation, and the Nara Visitors Bureau.

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