Toshio Watanabe

Professor for Japanese Arts and Cultural Heritage

Toshio Watanabe is Professor for Japanese Arts and Cultural Heritage at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia, and Emeritus Professor of History of Art and Design, University of the Arts London.

He is a researcher and university professor based in England since 1977 and completed his doctorate at the University of Basel, Switzerland in 1984. He was the founding director of the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN) at the University of Arts London (2004-11). He was among others Chair of Association of Art Historians, President of Japan Art History Forum, Vice-President of Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA) Bureau and the Chair of the Advisory Board for Tate Research Centre: Asia.

His current projects include ‘Gardens and the Memory of Asia Pacific War’ and ‘Modern Japanese Gardens and China’. Other research interests include history and reception of modern Japanese garden, the theory of modern landscape in Japan (1880s – 1940s), Tokyo as a transnational city, changing images of Musashino, construction of Japanese Art History, and 20th Century East Asian taste.

Selected publications



  • ‘Nude art, censorship and modernity in Japan: from the “Knickers Incident” of 1901 to now’. In Quinn, M. et al (eds.), The Persistence of Taste: Art, Museums and Everyday Life after Bourdieu. 2017. Abingdon, Oxon & New York: Routledge, 206-221.
  • ‘A Kyoto garden renewal? From Meiji to early Showa period’. In Pitelaka, M. and Tseng, A. Y. (eds.), Kyoto Visual Culture in the Early Edo and Meiji Periods. 2016. London and New York: Routledge, 163-181.
  • ‘Modern Japanese Garden’. In Rimer, T. (ed.), Since Meiji: Perspectives on the Japanese Visual Arts, 1868-2000. 2012. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 340-360.
  • ‘Japanese Landscape Painting and Taiwan: Modernity, Colonialism and National Identity’. In Kikuchi, Y (ed.), Refracted Modernity: Visual Culture and Identity in Colonial Taiwan. 2007. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 67-81.
  • ‘Japanese Imperial Architecture: From Thomas Roger Smith to Itō Chūta’. In Conant, E.P. (ed.), Challenging Past and Present: The Metamorphosis of Nineteenth-Century Japanese Art. 2006. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 240-253.


Selected projects

  • Gardens and the Memory of Asia-Pacific War
  • The Art History of Third Force 1890-1920 – Study of the Japanese Network in Britain
  • Worlding Public Cultures: The Arts and Social Innovation
  • Modern Japanese Gardens and China
  • Ilse Watanabe and the Post-war Knitwear Design in Japan

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