You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Japan’ category.

Hokusai Cinema Trailer. 4 June 2017

Don’t miss the world première of British Museum presents Hokusai at your local cinema on 4 June 2017. This ground-breaking feature documentary is the first British film to be made about the celebrated Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Co-produced with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), British Museum presents: Hokusai will be introduced by Andrew Graham-Dixon and feature artists David Hockney, Grayson Perry, Rebecca Salter and Maggi Hambling along with leading scholars of the day.

More here.

 

Hokusai’s The Great Wave. Woodblock print published between 1829 and 1833

The British Museum’s special exhibition features some of Hokusai’s best-known masterpieces and will explore the work of one of Japan’s greatest artists.

Featuring loans from across the world, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these works together. Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) is widely regarded as one of Japan’s most famous and influential artists. He produced works of astonishing quality right up until his death at the age of 90.

This new exhibition will lead you on an artistic journey through the last 30 years of Hokusai’s life – a time when he produced some of his most memorable masterpieces.

Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave
25 May – 13 August (closed 3–6 July).
Book now here.

Supported by Mitsubishi Corporation.

 

Marking World Heritage Day today we are focusing on the ancient Japanese art of picture conservation and mounting known as Hyōgu.

1923 woodblock print after the earliest known image of a hyōgushi priest and his assistant Original by the 14th century Japanese painter Fujiwara Takakane
Private collection Great Britain

Hyōgu and the hyōgushi

The art of restoring and mounting works of art on paper and silk has been practiced in the Far East for nearly two millennia. Originating first in China at the beginning of the Christian era, conservation techniques and materials then spread to Japan where they developed into the refined art that we now know as Hyōgu.

The word Hyōgu means a picture or piece of calligraphy lined with paper and mounted as a hanging scroll. The words hyōgushi, hyōguya and kyōji refer to the mounter/conservators of Japan who not only repair and mount hanging scrolls but also conserve other forms of pictorial art such as the handscroll, screens, sliding doors, murals etc.

The hyōgushi of today is required to undergo a long and strict period of training. During this time he or she learns not only the skills which will enable him to conserve scrolls, screens etc, but also the knowledge and sensitivity required to present them in their correct context. He must know the appropriate style of mount used for any subject and be aware, for example, of the meanings associated with the patterned silks used with such mounts. He or she must also know how and where an object will be used as this will often dictate the materials and techniques employed in its conservation.

Like the Western bookbinder, the hyōgushi is responsible for objects which must be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The objects he is conserving are made to be opened and closed, rolled and unrolled and, apart from the demands of conservation and aesthetics, the hyōgushi must always bear in mind that they are to be constantly handled and not merely viewed.

Made of wood and measuring 96cm in length. Probably between 50 and a 100 years old
Private collection. Great Britain

The loom would have been suspended from above by the warp which would have passed through the 36 holes that are bored into it (apart from the eighteen visible holes there are also eighteen more in the rectangular sections). In this position all 36 warp ‘ropes’ would be inline with each other. By pushing the ‘handle’ upwards or downwards a space is created into which the weft could be passed to the left and right. The small piece of wood was probably used to ‘knock down’ the weft in order to achieve a tighter weave. There is what seems to be a similar loom in our feature here.

 

 
 
Katsuren Castle (勝連城), Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Image credit kanegen. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
The Japan Times/KYODO reports 26 September 2016 that –
 
Coins issued in ancient Rome have been excavated from the ruins of a castle in Okinawa Prefecture [southern Japan], the local board of education said, the first time such artifacts have been discovered in Japan. The board of education in the city of Uruma said the four copper coins, believed to date back to the Roman Empire in the third to fourth centuries, were discovered in the ruins of Katsuren Castle, which existed from the 12th to 15th centuries. Okinawa’s trade with China and Southeast Asia was thriving at the time and the finding is “precious historical material suggesting a link between Okinawa and the Western world,” the board of education said.
 
Each coin measures 1.6 to 2 cm in diameter. The designs and patterns on both sides are unclear due to abrasion. Based on X-ray analysis, however, the board said the coins appear to bear an image of Constantine I and a soldier holding a spear. Other relics unearthed from the site include a coin from the 17th century Ottoman Empire, as well as five other round metallic items that also appear to be coins.
 
The coins will be on display at Uruma City Yonagusuku Historical Museum in central Okinawa until 25 November 2016.
 
More here. See also our earlier feature Roman jewellery found in 5th century Japanese tomb
 
 
An artist’s impression of Londinium, centre of the Roman Empire in Britain, circa 200ce
 
Across the river to the south of Londinium was a small suburb that would later become Southwark. It was here, in a Roman cemetery, that two skeletons dating from between the 2-4 centuries ce, and of East Asian origin (possibly Chinese), have been found.
 
It is not yet know if the two individuals were slaves, traders or something else. Trade between China and Rome was already well established through intermediaries by this time; in fact there is an example of Roman jewellery being found in a 5th century Japanese tomb.
 
More here. See also our earlier feature Caesaromagus: A place of unassuming mystery…
  

The Taisho Photographer’s House by Hamish Campbell

Hidden in an old and collapsing home, an incredible discovery sheds light on the lives of a Japanese family during Japan’s Taishō Period (1912–1926). As this remarkable family home, and its contents, slowly disintegrates and disappears Australian photographer Hamish Campbell captures what still remains.

The Heritage Trust strongly urges the appropriate Japanese authorities to take steps to protect and preserve this unique and invaluable house and its contents for future generations.

Nexus – Genkan I
A superimposed image showing the condition of the Taisho Photographer’s House today, with a Taisho family bride entering the house’s genkan (hallway)
Image credit Hamish Campbell

See also Hamish Campbell’s I Found 100-Year-Old Glass Plates in an Abandoned Japanese Home here.

 

 
William Gowland standing in the main burial chamber of one of the Tsukahara Kofun mounds
©
Trustees of the British Museum
 
A workshop entitled Treasures from the ancient Japanese mounded tombs: current research on the Gowland Collection will be held on Saturday, 19 March 2016 from 09.30–13.00 in the Sackler Rooms, Clore Centre, the British Museum.
 
A half-day symposium where Japanese and British specialists will present the findings of their major research project into the Gowland Collection of Kofun period materials (3rd-7th centuries AD) held at the British Museum. These artefacts and archive, acquired by William Gowland during his long sojourn in Japan in the later 19th century, comprise a unique collection outside Japan, illuminating both the history of Japanese archaeology and the origins of the state in Japan, when rulers were buried in some of the largest burial monuments of the ancient world.
 
Admission is free but pre-registration is advised as seats are limited. To register please contact ayano@britishmuseum.org See also our earlier feature on William Gowland: Father of Japanese Archaeology here.
 
 kofun-tomb
 
The 5th century Daisen Kofun (burial mound), the largest of all the keyhole-shaped kofun, in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, Japan.
 
David DeMar, writing in the NewHistorian, reports on the discovery of a wooden causeway linking one of Japan’s keyhole-shaped burial mounds to its surrounding land –
 
Research into an ancient Japanese burial mound has revealed evidence of a wooden bridge being used at the time of the occupant’s burial, before being taken down.
 
Located in the city of Sakai, south of Osaka, the keyhole-shaped burial mound could have been used as the final resting place of an important individual, either from the imperial family or an emperor himself from the Kofun period (late third to seventh centuries CE). Known as the Nisanzai Kofun, the mound has been dated to the late fifth century CE and would have been surrounded by a large moat, necessitating the construction of a bridge to reach it.
 
According to an interview in the Asahi Shimbun with Taichiro Shiraishi, Osaka Prefecture’s head of the Chikatsu Asuka Museum, the likelihood seems high that, during the burial, people would have stood on both sides of the bridge as the body, encased in a temporary casket, was laid to rest. Shiraishi pointed to the evidence, consisting of five newly-discovered bore holes that would have been ideal for the piers of a bridge; these holes, which were discovered during excavation efforts in the autumn of 2015, are in addition to the 26 bore holes ringing the burial mound discovered in a 2013 dig. An additional four holes were found progressing across the moat in 2013 as well.
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
The Star Chart on the ceiling of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound in western Japan
Image credit Yuta Takahashi for the The Asahi Shimbun
 
The famous Takamatsuzuka Kofun (高松塚古墳) burial mound exhibition closes today (8 November 2015) in Asuka village, Japan. Built during the Asuka Period, between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, it lay unopened until 1972. Excavations of the mound then revealed an interior on whose walls stunning murals of Asuka Period ladies, astrological representations and a golden star chart were found. The gold disks, making up the chart, measure some 0.8 centimetres in diameter and are connected by red lines
 
Designated as a National Treasure this was the first time the general public were able to view the chart.
 
More here.
   

The Sanro-den kake-zukuri Prayer Hall before restoration

At the end of 2013 we reported on the World Monuments Fund’s project to save and restore the Sanro-den kake-zukuri Prayer Hall in Ōzu, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku Japan (see our feature Appeal for the restoration of the Sanro-den launched). The restoration project is now almost complete and, as today marks World Heritage Day and ICOMOS’ 50th anniversary, we’re happy to highlight that, with help from the World Monuments Fund, a celebration recently took place to mark the near-completion of the Sanro-den restoration project. The Sanro-den was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch because of its deteriorated condition and its potential for community involvement. Structural work on the Sanro-den is now finished. “The remaining work includes public paths and a final codification of plans for site management and usage. Completion is scheduled for June 2015.”

The Sanro-den after restoration

More here.

   

 
 
Carved knife by Japanese artist Kaizawa Toru
 
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures will be holding a Friends Event on Monday, 23 February 2015 from 6:00-7:30pm. The Event will be held at the Sainsbury Institute in Norwich, England and is entitled Ainu Art and Archaeology. Two talks will be given; one by Professor Kato Hirofumi (Professor of Archaeology, Hokkaido University Centre for Ainu and Indigenous Studies) entitled Tracing the Emergence of Ainu Ethnicities using Archaeological Data. The other talk is by the artist Kaizawa Toru and is entitled Conflict and Amalgamation between “Tradition” and “Ainu”.
 
The Sainsbury Institute invites you to join them –
 
…for an evening in the company of two distinguished guests who will introduce us to two fascinating aspects of the distinctive culture of Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido. The historical trajectory of Hokkaido is very different to the other main islands in the archipelago, and indeed it was only in the 19th century that Ezo, as it was formerly known, was fully assimilated into modern Japan. Before that it was the preserve of the Ainu, now formally recognised as an Indigenous People of Japan, after decades of discrimination. The Ainu cultural tradition (Ainu means ‘The People’ in the Ainu language, which is quite different to modern Japanese) goes back to at least the 13th century AD. Ainu people controlled territories from central Honshu to Russia, and played a key role in trade in the Medieval and Early Modern periods. These talks will demonstrate how, as opposed to accounts which consider the Ainu to be endangered survivors from the ancient past, they are the bearers of a vital cultural tradition with great contemporary resonance.
 
 
A 1902 photograph showing a group of Ainu people
Source Wikimedia Commons
 
Further information and booking here.
    

Artist impression of the seventh century Koyamada Burial Mound Moat
Image credit the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara

Kazuto Tsukamoto, Staff Writer for the Asahi Shimbun, reports last week that archaeologists in Japan have unearthed the remains of a possible mid-seventh century imperial burial mound (kofun 古墳). The remains of the Koyamada Mound were discovered on the site of a school in the Askua area of Nara Prefecture, central Japan. Asuka was one of the early capitals of Japan before being relocated to Nara and then Kyoto (see our earlier feature, Asuka, Japan: An introduction to its megalithic sites).

“The mound is highly likely the first burial site of Emperor Jomei (593-641), described in the ‘Nihon Shoki’ (The Chronicles of Japan) as the place where his body rested until it was later transferred to another location,” said Fuminori Sugaya, the director of the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture. The researchers made the estimate based on the ruin’s location, size and unique construction method.

The excavation site contains what is believed to be part of a moat lined with boulders along one of its slopes, according to the researchers. The remnants of the moat measures 48 meters in length and 3.9 to 7 meters in width. While 40-centimeter quartz diorite boulders line the northern slope of the moat, the bottom is covered with stones measuring 15 cm to 30 cm. The southern slope is covered with flagstones made of two-step chlorite schist that are topped with special flagstones known as “Haibara,” a type of rhyolite stone, stacked in a staircase pattern. The total number of steps in some areas is 10.

Full Asahi Shimbun article here.

   

Mongol invaders (left) fire on Takezaki Suenaga (on horseback) while a tetsuhau or ceramic projectile bomb explodes overhead
From the 13th century Mōko Shūrai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞) Japanese handscroll of the Mongol Invasion of Japan

Museum of the Imperial Collections, Tokyo Imperial Palace
Source Wikimedia Commons

Tasuku Ueda, Staff Writer, for the Asahi Shimbun, reports on the possible discovery of Kublai Khan’s invading fleet to Japan –

Matsuura, Nagasaki Prefecture: A wreck found off Takashima Island here is likely part of a Mongol invasion fleet that came to grief in a typhoon more than 700 years ago. The discovery was announced Oct. 2 by archaeologists with the University of the Ryukyus and the Matsuura City board of education who are researching the Takashima Kozaki underwater historic site.

Numerous artefacts have been recovered from the seabed from wrecks of fleets dispatched in 1274 and 1281 to invade Japan. In both invasion attempts, battles were fought in northern Kyushu. The fleet of 4,400 vessels sent by Kublai Khan in 1281 was wrecked near Takashima Island in a storm the Japanese dubbed ‘Kamikaze’ (divine wind) for ultimately saving their homeland from the Mongols.

An earlier report in Archaeology by James P. Delgado describes the discovery by Kenzo Hayashida of the Kyushu Okinawa Society for Underwater Archaeology (KOSUWA) of a, “…tetsuhau or ceramic projectile bomb. KOSUWA has recovered six of these from the wreck. They are the world’s earliest known exploding projectiles and the earliest direct archaeological evidence of seagoing ordnance.” Delado writes –

Chinese alchemists invented gunpowder around A.D. 300, and by 1100 huge paper bombs much like giant firecrackers were being used in battle. Chinese sources refer to catapult-launched exploding projectiles in 1221, but some historians have argued that the references date to later rewritings of the sources. In his recent book In Little Need of Divine Intervention, which analyses two Japanese scrolls that depict the Mongol invasion, Bowdoin College historian Thomas Conlan suggests that a scene showing a samurai falling from his horse as a bomb explodes over him was a later addition. Conlan’s research masterfully refutes many of the traditional myths and commonly held perceptions of the invasion, downplaying the number of ships and troops involved and arguing that it was not the storms but the Japanese defenders ashore, as well as confusion and a lack of coordination, that thwarted the khan’s two invasions. But his suggestion that the exploding bomb is an anachronism has now been demolished by solid archaeological evidence. Moreover, when the Japanese x-rayed two intact bombs, they found that one was filled just with gunpowder while the other was packed with gunpowder and more than a dozen square pieces of iron shrapnel intended to cut down the enemy.

More here and in Archaeology here.

 

 
The Ishi-no-Hōden (石の宝殿) megalith in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan
Image credit Miles Gray
 
The Ishi-no-Hōden megalith is thought to have been cut from its surrounding rock some 1,500 years ago and, if freestanding, would weigh in the region of 500 tons. It sits at the centre of a pond and appears to float above the surface of the water. As with many sacred objects in Japan (including natural objects such as trees) the Ishi-no-Hōden megalith is adorned with a sacred rice-straw rope known as a shimenawa. Milies Gray, on his website, describes the Ishi-no-Hōden megalith as –
 
A mysterious dug-out cube monument in a quarry. Known as one of the three greatest enigmas in Japan. Now worshiped as the god of the Ōshiko Jinja Shinto shrine. Although the structure of the top is concealed by pine trees, they suspect that there may be two holes like Masada-no-Iwafune and Kengoshizuka-kofun. The name of the nearest station is named after this site “Houden”.
 
 
The German doctor Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866), who entered isolated Japan disguised as a Dutchman, later presented his drawing of Ishi-no-Hōden in volume 1 of his books “NIPPON” (1832).
 
   
Image credit 阿部 吾郎
 

Categories

August 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Follow The Heritage Trust on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: