Research networks are at the heart of the Institute’s mission and research strategy, forming the basis for our world-class research projects. In addition to affiliations with the University of East Anglia (UEA), the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and the British Museum, there are various strong collaborative ties with Ritsumeikan University, Kyushu University, the Niigata Prefectural Museum of History, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the International Centre for Albanian Archaeology and the Centre Européen d’Etudes Japonaises d’Alsace, , and links with many other organisations. The Institute’s various projects draw on this international network, bringing scholars from around the world together to explore major research themes. Currently projects are grouped around three major themes: Japanese art and cultural resources; Japanese archaeology and heritage; and Japanese contemporary visual media.
University of East Anglia (UEA)
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures is closely affiliated with the University of East Anglia (UEA) where it is part of the Sainsbury Institute for Art (SIfA). SIfA is comprised of the four Sainsbury beneficiaries, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, and the School of World Art Studies and Museology, together offering a distinctive combination of expertise in the art and display of cultures from around the world and associated academic disciplines. The Institute also works closely with the University’s Centre for Japanese Studies. While the Institute is an independently registered charity, with its base in the Norwich Cathedral Close, the University’s Vice-Chancellor acts as Chair of the Institute’s Management Board and Institute staff are employed through the University.
Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury built up a superb collection of art over 60 years, including many fine Japanese works from the Jomon to the contemporary period. They donated their entire collection to UEA, and Norman Foster designed the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) to house it. to house it. The exquisite Sainsbury collections, while encompassing diverse items from distinct and separate cultures, can be seen to have a unified and integrated presence due to the vision of the collectors, and this vision continues to inspire and inform the Institute’s activities.
The Institute’s research strategy places renewed emphasis on the development of synergies among the Sainsbury beneficiaries, SIfA, at UEA. Our research initiatives provide for that and also offer unparalleled opportunities to enlarge the graduate base and international standing of related programmes at UEA. The Institute also provides colleagues at UEA with appropriate library resources, space for lectures, experts to work with specific projects and lectures, specialist teaching, postgraduate supervision in Japanese arts and opportunities for student internships.
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Since its formation in 1916, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has built an enviable reputation around the globe for the calibre and quality of its courses, teaching and research. It is part of the University of London and centrally located in Bloomsbury, next to the British Museum. SOAS continues to enhance its position as the world’s leading centre for the study of a highly diverse range of subjects concerned with Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Some 25 Japanese specialists at SOAS offer a wide range of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including those who are specifically related to Japanese visual culture, film and media studies. The School has Europe’s most comprehensive library on Japanese subjects and is designated the National Library for Asian and African studies.
As the largest centre for Japanese studies in the UK, SOAS is an invaluable partner for the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. The relationship is formalized by the membership of the Director of SOAS on the Institute’s Management Board.
The Institute also collaborates with the School’s Japan Research Centre, which serves as a national and international centre for Japanese studies, and which maintains links with Japanese scholars, Japanese universities and the Japanese community in London. The Institute supports acquisitions by the SOAS Library in the area of Japanese visual arts.
The British Museum
The British Museum was founded in 1753 to promote universal understanding through the arts, natural history and science in a public museum. Housed in one of Britain’s architectural landmarks, the collection spans two million years of human history. The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures has a formal collaborative agreement with the Japanese Section, Department of Asia, at the British Museum to co-operate in research, publications and public presentations relating to Japanese arts and cultures in the UK. Based on this agreement, the Institute works regularly with the British Museum to realise a wide range of activities ranging from lectures, conferences, and research projects resulting in major exhibitions such as Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan (2007) and The Power of Dogu (2009).
The Institute’s Research Director, Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, is currently seconded to the British Museum, carrying out surveying and cataloguing the Japanese ceramics collection at the museum. In the past she has curated two major exhibitions held at the British Museum, (Kazari: Decoration and Display in Japan 17th-19th Centuries in 2003 and Crafting Beauty: Celebrating 50 Years of the Japan Traditional Arts Crafts Exhibition in 2007) and has edited the associated catalogues.
The Research Director was previously seconded to the British Museum for six months in 2006 to work on the new permanent exhibition in the Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries, a project in which the then Assistant Director of the Institute, Simon Kaner, who is currently the Head of Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, was also involved.
The Institute’s Librarian, Akira Hirano, acts as Honorary Librarian to the Japanese Section of the British Museum.