Behind the Scenes

As you read this latest issue of our e-magazine, we will be preparing for a busy season of summer schools and other events. Our fifth cohort of students, mainly from central and eastern Europe, will be in Norwich for our fifth Japan Orientation summer school, generously funded by the Toshiba International Foundation. No sooner do they depart than we commence our first Ishibashi Summer School in Japanese Arts and Cultures, which runs through the first three weeks of August. The Ishibashi Foundation is generously sponsoring bursaries for participants from all over the world. In addition, at the end of July we welcome another group of high-school students, ‘Young Obsidian Ambassadors’, from Nagawa-machi in Nagano prefecture, as part of the exchanges around the world’s first twinned archaeological sites, as reported in a previous issue. And at the end of August we host a second group of students from Gakushuin University in Tokyo, in the UK to study overseas perspectives on Japanese arts and cultures. We are also moving towards launching new modules in Japanese Art History and Cultural Heritage as part of the planned new MA in Interdisciplinary Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia. All of this activity demonstrates a renewed commitment to creating new opportunities for fresh generations to learn about Japanese arts and cultures, underpinned by our ever-strengthening relationship with the University of East Anglia. Much of this new teaching will be lead on behalf of the Sainsbury Institute by our two new colleagues, Dr Jennifer Coates, who joined us in April as Senior Lecturer in Japanese Arts and Cultures, and Dr Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer, who joins us as Lecturer in the same field in July.

At the end of June we are holding a special awayday on Japanese studies in Norwich with colleagues from the University of East Anglia, looking to the future and our move to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts on the university campus, planned for 2021. While this is a major transition for the Institute, the Sainsbury Institute will continue to be a freestanding unit formally at the University of East Anglia, conducting research in partnership with the very best specialists and organisations in the UK, Europe and around the world. We are greatly anticipating the new opportunities our move will create for enhancing synergies in both teaching and research, while ensuring that our community-focused activities in the city of Norwich will continue. On September 20th His Excellency Tsuruoka Koji, Ambassador of Japan to the Court of St James’, will deliver our 200th Third Thursday Lecture on the theme of UK-Japan relations. We hope that as many of you as possible will join us to welcome Ambassador Tsuruoka to our fine city. I am pleased to be able to acknowledge the generous support we continue to receive from Yakult and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for these lectures. In May we were delighted to welcome both Mr Brendan Griggs MBE, Chief Executive of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Mr Tanami Tatsuya, Special Advisor to Mr Sasakawa Yohei, benefactor of both the Nippon Foundation and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, to Norwich, where they met colleagues working on Japan both at the Sainsbury Institute and the University of East Anglia.

This autumn we will inaugurate a new research strand at the Institute, which we are calling Digital Japan, which will also see the Institute formally engaging with social media for the first time. To mark this we will hold a Digital Japan mini-festival at the Forum in Norwich on 20th -21st September, showcasing a number of digital research initiatives in which we are already involved, and a workshop to explore how we will develop this new strand into the future. The Sainsbury Institute has always been at the forefront of innovative approaches to researching and disseminating Japanese arts and cultures, and this new strand recognises how central Japan is to the digital world. Watch out for our first Sainsbury Institute tweets and Facebook posts.

The great number of applications we received for the summer schools mentioned above, and the Institute’s ever-expanding range of activities, reflect increasing interest in Japan generally, interest that we expect to grow further with the approaching Rugby World Cup in Japan in autumn 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in summer 2020. The Sainsbury Institute is well placed to contribute to the planned UK-Japan Season of Culture announced by Prime Ministers Abe and May when they met in Japan last year. We will be making further announcements about this soon. This summer we welcome the arrival of a new partner on the Japan scene in the UK, Japan House, which opens its doors this month, providing a wonderful new venue in London for events about Japan and a new home for our good friends at the Japan Foundation. We are also looking forward to some visits to Paris in the autumn for the wide-ranging Japonisme programme, coordinated by the Japan Foundation, promising over sixty Japan-themed events and exhibitions.

This issue of the e-magazine introduces just some of the research and outreach activities undertaken by the Sainsbury Institute. I am particularly delighted that we include a piece introducing the Oriental Museum at Durham University, and to see renewed interest in Japan at that august institution. And the piece on sumo makes me nostalgic for when UK audiences were treated to regular bouts of sumo on the TV in the halcyon days of Channel Four’s coverage. I was sorry to read in May of the passing of one of the greatest foreign sumo specialists, British-born Doreen Simmons . I hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to seeing you at some of our forthcoming events.

Dr Simon Kaner
Executive Director