Book Launch: Obtaining Images – Art, Production and Display in Edo Japan by Prof Timon Screech


24 April 2012 from 6.30pm

The Edo period (1603–1868) witnessed one of the great flowerings of Japanese art. Towards the mid-seventeenth century, the Japanese states were largely at peace, and rapid urbanization, a rise in literacy and an increase in international contact ensued. The number of those able to purchase luxury goods, or who felt their social position necessitated owning them, soared. Painters and artists flourished and the late seventeenth century also saw a rise in the importance of printmaking. Obtaining Images introduces the reader to important artists and their work, but also to the intellectual issues and concepts surrounding the production, consumption and display of art in Japan in the Edo period. Rather than looking at these through the lens of European art, the book contextualizes the making and use of paintings and prints, elucidating how and why works were commissioned, where they were displayed and what special properties were attributed to them.

Timon Screech is Professor in the History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and, concurrently, Permanent Visiting Professor at Tama Art University, Tokyo. He is the author of several books on Japanese history and culture, including Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan, 1700–1820 (Reaktion, 1999) and The Shogun’s Painted Culture: Fear and Creativity in the Japanese States, 1760–1829(Reaktion, 2000). Tim Clark, Keeper of Japanese Art at the British Museum will act as discussant at this event.

This event is presented in partnership with Reaktion Books, with this book having been awarded a grant under the Japan Foundation Support Programme for Publication on Japan.

 This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please with your name, details and those of any guests.

Twice Bombed: special film screening

Tuesday, 16th August 2011   5.45pm – 8.45pm

5.45pm Twice Bombed (2006, 60 mins)
7pm   Twice Bombed: the Legacy of Yamaguchi Tsutomu (2011, 70 mins)
8.15pm Q & A with producer Hidetaka Inazuka

Both films in Japanese with English sub titles.

Khalili Lecture Theatre
School of Oriental & African Studies
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

Free. Booking recommended.

On the morning of 6 August 1945, Yamaguchi, a shipbuilder for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, suffered severe burns while on a business trip to Hiroshima when he was exposed to radiation from the nuclear bomb (3km from the epicentre).

On the following day he headed home on an evacuation train to be reunited with his wife and children. He arrived at Nagasaki station at midday on 8 August and received medical treatment.  On 9 August he reported for work at his marine architecture firm and, while telling of the horrors he had witnessed in Hiroshima, became for the second time the victim of an atomic bomb.

Twice Bombed: the Legacy of Yamaguchi Tsutomu (2011) tells his story and recounts the hard fought campaign of his later years against nuclear weapons. Also being screened is Twice Bombed (2006) about Yamaguchi and six other people who had been exposed to radiation from both bomb blasts.

We are delighted to welcome the film’s producer, Hidetaka Inazuka, who spent time with Yamaguchi until his death in January 2010 and is determined to pass on his legacy to viewers.

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330, or submit the online booking form

In association with:

Japanese Enamels: The Seven Treasures

Gregory Irvine
Senior Curator Asian Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum

Monday 15th August 6.45 pm

School of Oriental and African Studies
University of London
Khalili Lecture Theatre
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square

Free – booking recommended

‘There are two distinct qualities or types expressed in Japanese art: one suggesting endless patience in the execution of minute detail, the other denoting a momentary conception of some fleeting idea carried out with boldness and freedom of expression in form and line – profuse complexity and extreme simplicity… the work on Japanese cloisonné ware generally exhibits the quality suggestive of unwearying labour and patience.’ (Harada Jiro, The Studio, 1911)

The characters used for Shippo, the Japanese term for enamels, are a reference to the Seven Treasures mentioned in Buddhist texts. The Japanese applied this term to the rich colours found on Chinese enamels and to those made later in Japan. The art of cloisonné enamelling was, from the late 1850s, one of Japan’s most successful forms of manufacture. The peak of artistic and technological sophistication was between 1880 and 1910, a period referred to as the ‘Golden Age’, and a time when the taste for Japan in the West was at its height and museums were avidly acquiring from dealers and international exhibitions.

The combining of the V&A’s historical collection (including examples acquired at the Paris International Exposition of 1867, the earliest documented cloisonné enamels in any world collection) with the recent generous gift of Japanese enamels from Mr Edwin Davies, OBE, enables the V&A to present a rounded picture of one of Japan’s most exquisite art forms in an exhibition that will be held in the V&A’s Japan Gallery from 14 June 2011 – 19 August 2012.

The lecture will discuss enamels from their early use as architectural fittings, through elegant inlaid metalwork of the late 17th century and into the Golden Age and the 20th century. It will explore objects from the renaissance of Japanese enamelling in the 1840s; the experimental works of the 1850s and 1860s and the rise of master artists such as Hayashi Kodenji, Namikawa Yasuyuki of Kyoto, Namikawa Sosuke of Tokyo and the output of the creative, innovative and prolific Ando Cloisonné Company of Nagoya.

Gregory Irvine is Senior Curator in the Asian Department of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and is principally responsible for the collections of Japanese metalwork, focusing on arms, armour and cloisonné enamels. He has visited Japan on many occasions to carry out research at museums, temples, shrines and in private collections.

Publications include Japanese Cloisonné: the Seven Treasures: V&A Publications, London, 2006; A Guide to Japanese Art Collections in the UK, Japan Society/Hotei, 2004; Collecting Japanese art at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Arts of Asia, Volume 39, Number 4, July – August 2009 and most recently Japanese Cloisonné Enamels, V&A Publications, London, 2011.

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 7828 6330 or email or submit the online booking form

Co-organised by:

Folk Music Japan: a celebration for Tohoku

Monday 1 August 2011, 7pm
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS

Admission £5 (£2 of each ticket will go to a charity for Tohoku disaster relief)

Book online now to ensure a seat!

The moving, masterful DUO (Shunsuke Kimura and Etsuro Ono), fresh from their performance at WOMAD, play Tsugaru shamisen and shinobue flute. Ono-san and his family live near Sendai in the heart of the disaster area.

DUO are preceded by a set of song and dance from Tohoku. The ensemble is led by Yoshihiro Endo (shakuhachi) and Yoshie Asano-Campbell (vocal & dance).

Audience participation will also be encouraged!

The wondrous music of DUO can be heard

Japan’s disaster-ridden northeast (Tohoku) is the country’s most famous folk music region. All the performers in this concert have close links with the traditions of Tohoku, and are delighted to be able to contribute in a small way via this event.

Ono-san, his wife and young children luckily suffered only loss of services and shortage of food. Kimura-san has studied the folk flute traditions of the region, some of which are from coastal villages in Iwate which have basically been destroyed.

Yoshie Asano-Campbell, who studied for years in Tohoku and now lives in Glasgow, is a specialist in the songs and dances of the region. Yoshihiro Endo (shakuhachi) also performs melodies from the northeast.

Among the backing performers, David Hughes (retired SOAS Music lecturer) has lived for a half year in Iwate and has often visited the region for research on folk song and on the ritual musics and dances whose continued performance may add so much encouragement to the residents of the destroyed villages.

Sylvia Vale has travelled in the northeast to learn several folk songs.

PLEASE come and support this important event.

Questions? Contact David Hughes,

Midwife and Manga Heroine: Oine Siebold, Nagasaki and the Birth of Modern Japan

Midwife and Manga Heroine: Oine Siebold, Nagasaki and the Birth of Modern Japan
Ulrich Heinze, Sasakawa Lecturer in Japanese Visual Media

Sainsbury Institute and Centre for Japanese Studies, University of East Anglia

20 June 2011, London

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Khalili Lecture Theatre, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

This lecture unravels the historical meaning of the city of Nagasaki for the cultural exchange between Japan and the West in the first half of the nineteenth century. To pursue this inquiry, Heinze will refer to three key source materials: David Mitchell’s new novel The 1000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, depicting the Phaeton-incident of 1808; Hendrik Doeff’s (1764-1837) Recollections of Japan, which is now available in English; and Masaki Maki’s manga Oine Siebold, on the career of the first female physician and obstetrician in Japan.
Dr Ulrich Heinze is Sasakawa Lecturer in Contemporary Japanese Visual Media. His position is jointly shared with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. A sociologist, he received his Ph.D. at Free University Berlin and was an EU-Postdoctorate Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo where he also later held the position of Associate Professor. In 2004, he was awarded the venia legendi (habilitatio) in Sociology from the University of Freiburg. Specialising in Japanese media studies, intercultural communication and visual arts, Heinze’s research interests include Japanese popular culture, manga, television and film. His third book entitled Media Theory Update: Technical Acceleration and Communicative Action is forthcoming in 2012. Heinze has also worked as a journalist and broadcasting editor for North German Radio (NDR) in Hamburg.

Admission Free but Booking recommended. To book your place, please contact the Japan Society office on tel: 020 7828 6330 or email

After the Shock: Prospects for Recovery and Reconstruction in Post-quake Japan

An interesting event at SOAS.

Monday, 16th May 2011, 6.45pm

School of Oriental and African Studies
University of London
Khalili Lecture Theatre
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

“Moderated discussion in support of the ‘Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund’.”

In Collaboration with the Japan Research Centre (JRC) at the School of Oriental and African Studies

Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis – on 11 March 2011 everything changed for the residents of Northeast Japan. Media reports have emphasized the dramatic, tragic devastation left in the wake of one of the strongest earthquakes in human history. ‘After the Shock’ shifts the discussion towards grappling with the prospects for recovery and reconstruction in Japan’s northeastern rural communities. Participants will have the opportunity to join in a moderated discussion between a geo-physicist with expertise in earthquake mitigation, an NPO director working with community and voluntary organisations in Northeast Japan, a nuclear industry analyst, and an historian whose research examines rural life in Japan and community relationships with the nuclear industry.

Roundtable Participants:

Professor Peter Sammonds is Professor of Geophysics at University College London, Department of Earth Sciences. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and a member of the Royal Society Environmental Advisory Network. He is past Chair of the JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) UK Alumni Association, and was Visiting Professor at the Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo. Professor Sammonds investigates the mechanics of the Earth’s crust and ice sheets by studying the fundamental physics and mechanics of geological materials, particularly research directed towards studying the impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

Phillida Purvis MBE is Founder and Director of Links Japan which was established in 1998 to promote sharing between civil society organizations in the EU and Japan. She has run exchange programmes between NPOs, NGOs and community organisations on a range of social sector issues, such as community regeneration, social inclusion, social enterprise as well as international development cooperation. As a member of HM Diplomatic Service she undertook Japanese language training and served at the British Embassy in Tokyo during the 1980s.

Malcolm C Grimston began work for the Atomic Energy Authority in 1987.  In 1995 he joined Imperial College as a Senior Research Fellow and in 1999 became a Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House, where he is now an Associate Fellow investigating the future of civil nuclear energy. He is author of numerous articles and co-author of two books as well as a regular media contributor on energy and nuclear matters.  He is an elected Member of Wandsworth Council and until 2009 had executive responsibility for environment and leisure.

Dr Martin Dusinberre is Lecturer in the History of Modern Japan at Newcastle University. He specialises in the social and cultural history of modern Japan, including the nuclear power industry. His book Hard Times in the Hometown: A Microhistory of Modern Japan is forthcoming from the University of Hawaii Press. An article on Japanese civil society and the rise of the nuclear power industry, co-authored with Daniel P. Aldrich, is forthcoming from the Journal of Asian Studies.

Moderated by:

Dr Christopher Gerteis is Lecturer in the History of Contemporary Japan at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has held research and teaching positions at Hosei University and Sophia University in Tokyo and Yale University in the United States. He is a specialist in the history of modern and contemporary Japan.

Co-organised by:

Booking Information:
To book your place, please contact the Japan Society office on
tel: 020 7828 6330 or email

Japanese Language Proficiency Test

For the first time ever, the Japanese Language Proficiency Test will now be held twice a year in the UK.

The first test will be held on Sunday, July 3rd 2011.  It will be held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Applications are now open!  You can now apply online through the SOAS website here.

Click here for more information about the JLPT.

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG