Activities at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC)

Workshop flyer

 The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) in Norwich, UK, is a renowned center for the study of Japanese arts and culture in Europe and well-known to Western stakeholders. Since July 2013, SISJAC and the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) have entered into a collaborative project on “Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art.”

 On July 8th and 9th, 2022, TSUDA Tetsuei, a visiting researcher at the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems in TOBUNKEN, on a sabbatical in the UK, participated in an online workshop on “Absence, Presence, and Materiality: Refiguring Japanese Religious Art and Culture,” organized by SISJAC. On July 9th, he delivered an oral presentation titled Reinterpreting Esoteric Buddhist Sculpture in the Nara period (8th century).

 This presentation demonstrated that esoteric Buddhism had already been introduced and accepted in the latter half of the Nara period (8th century) before Kūkai introduced it in Japan in the Heian period (early 9th century). Vidyā-rājā (J. Myōō) statues had already been sculpted and one of them survives even today. Furthermore, this workshop was conducted as per Japan standard time: it commenced late at night and concluded early morning in Europe and the USA. Nevertheless, 72 people attended on both days, not only from Europe and the USA but also from Russia and Taiwan. It was evident that numerous researchers worldwide were interested in Japanese religions and culture.

 On July 11th, as SISJAC had asked TSUDA to provide descriptions of Japanese artworks (sculptures and crafts) from the Jōmon to the Medieval period for catalogs and panels at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in the University of East Anglia (UEA), which has jurisdiction over SISJAC, TSUDA and Miss MATSUBA Ryoko, a member of the SISJAC, surveyed the museum’s collection and exchanged views. This collection is almost unknown in Japan, but it contains fine examples of Buddhist art, including a gilt bronze Buddha from the Nara period (8th century) and a seated bodhisattva from the mid-Heian period (10th century), although they are small in size. In addition, a few works can also be checked against the TOBUNKEN’s digital archive of auction catalogue and sold art works.

 On the same day, since 14:00 hours, Mr. ITO Tsuyoshi, minister at the embassy of Japan in London, inspected these exhibits, and TSUDA delivered gallery talks on these artworks with Miss MATSUBA Ryoko. The minister listened attentively as he observed the artworks.

to page top