Events category: Talk

3 November 2017

Joso's Japan: Nature, Blood and Dust

Novelist Jayne Joso discussed Japan’s deep affinity with nature, how this permeates traditional everyday life and culture, and how it pulses through the country’s art and literature. She talked us through the insights she gained into Japan’s relationship with nature as one of a cycle of transmigration, as one that places the human in equal relation, and as one that is for forever fluid, dynamic and ultimately humbling.

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9 November 2017

Turning Point: The Momentous Events that Created Modern Japan

To Japan, the arrival of Commodore Perry and his Black Ships in 1853 was almost as shocking as if Martians had landed. In this talk, Lesley Downer began by setting the scene on the cusp of Perry’s arrival, telling the story of the Black Ships from both Japanese and American viewpoints. Her talk was illustrated with contemporary documents and pictures including woodblock prints of Perry and Harris as seen through Japanese eyes, and American drawings of the Japanese.

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26 September 2017

Kumamoto: Earthquakes and Art

In April 2016, Kumamoto Prefecture was hit by two massive earthquakes in two successive nights. The Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, was damaged, but most of the artworks were saved, and it was able to reopen within a month as a cultural hub. Director of the Museum Takeshi Sakurai talked about his work there both before and after the earthquake, as well as the progress of reconstruction in Kumamoto more broadly.

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29 June 2017

How to Deal with a Rising China: a Japanese Perspective

In this talk at the University of Cambridge, Professor Akio Takahara approached the bilateral relations in a comprehensive way and explore four areas of factors in the relationship, namely, domestic politics, economic interests, international environment and security, and people’s perceptions and identity.

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20 June 2017

Chiune Sugihara: Visas of Life

Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat based in the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania in 1940, went against his superiors and granted more than 2,000 transit visas to Jewish refugees looking to escape Europe by travelling to Japan, helping as many as 6,000 Jews to flee. In this event, Akira Kitade shared the stories of the fateful encounters between Japanese civilians and Jewish refugees at a time of life and death during the Second World War.

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1 June 2017

Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan

The House of Illustration hosted the UK’s first ever exhibition of handmade background illustrations for classic sci-fi anime films. It featured drawings and paintings from some of the most influential productions in the genre’s 1990s heyday, including Production I.G’s phenomenally influential 1995 film Ghost in the Shell. In this talk, House of Illustration curator Olivia Ahmad, was joined in conversation by the exhibition’s curator Stefan Riekeles and Helen McCarthy, author of The Anime Encyclopaedia.

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10 March 2017

Gobara Lacquerware: Unique Urushi

The Hiruzen Plateau in Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture, is visited by over 2 million tourists per year. Gobara, a small village hidden away in one of the plateau’s corners, is home to Gobara lacquerware, a type of lacquerware that is made for everyday use. Join artisan Kunimitsu Takatsuki to discover more about the history and techniques of this unique urushi.

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14 March 2017

Love and Perverted Desires in Four Centuries of Japanese Literature

In this talk, Dr Damian Flanagan explored the shifting sexual norms of Japan’s literary history from the Edo Period to the present. How have the great writers of Japan from Ihara Saikaku and Natsume Soseki to Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murakami responded to the challenge of these shifting sexual norms and how does understanding the sexuality of the age change our understanding of their works?

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26 January 2017

Cyber Security: National and Business threat?

Since the September 2013 selection of Tokyo as host of the 2020 Olympic Games, the Japanese have put increased emphasis on cybersecurity and Internet of Things (IoT) security to make sure the Games are a success. 2015-16 was particularly packed with developments. Mihoko Matsubara, Chief Security Officer for Japan at Palo Alto Networks, talked about Japan’s cybersecurity efforts in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and what they mean for the rest of the world.

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13 January 2017

Ballerina: The Reason I Keep Dancing

Japan has and continues to produce world class ballet dancers. Dancing at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is the pinnacle of a dancer’s career, and young Japanese ballet dancers dream of joining the world-famous Royal Ballet company. In this talk, Miyako Yoshida, who has performed in numerous leading roles at the Royal Ballet, shared her love of dancing with us.

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