School of Oriental and African Studies

The history of Japanese studies in the UK cannot be told without mentioning SOAS which has been at the core of its development from the beginning to this day.

When the Institute started as a fledgling organisation in the east of England, the support and encouragement from SOAS was crucial for its growth. Our London office was located at SOAS and the majority of the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellows were based there up to around 2012 receiving scholarly guidance from senior SOAS academics. The Director of SOAS is an ex-officio member of the Management Board of the Institute, and SOAS academics are regular participants at the international conferences and workshops held at 64 The Close. In particular, the Toshiba Lectures for Japanese Arts, which ran between the years 2003 and 2016, and took the format of three lectures given by one scholar within a time-span of a month, were traditionally held in the order of the first one at SOAS, the second one at the British Museum and finally at Norwich. One memorable collaborative event with SOAS was a photo-exhibition titled ‘Tōhoku’ which was held after the 3.11 Great Kanto Earthquake and Tsunami at the Brunei Gallery. The exhibition featured pictures on the aftermath of the calamity taken by various Japanese photographers. The opening event held at the Japanese Roof Garden adjacent to the Brunei Gallery of SOAS provided an opportunity to contemplate on the impact of the disaster and pray for the victims and their families.