Although 2013 is already half over, the history nerd in me still feels the need to promote this fabulous factoid and fun link, which came to me earlier this year as a website announcement:
2013 marks the 400th anniversary of Japan-British relations. King James l sent Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hidetada presents and a letter, which were received in September, 1613. The letter survives in Tokyo University. Ieyasu received a telescope – the first ever sent to Asia – and Hidetada a precious cup and cover. The Shogun reciprocated with two suits of armour (which are extant), and Ieyasu gave five pairs of gold screens (lost) and a shuuinjo, which survives in Oxford University. A vast number of events is planned for 2013, including a major show at the British Museum which will open 400 to the day after the date of the shuuinjo. We aim for ‘400 connections for 400 years’. Please visit our website: www.japan400.com
Already, a number of really cool events have been held, including an illustrated lecture on missions to Japan from England, a lecture on the development of the Japanese mint from British techniques, and a series of musical performances. See a full account of the events here on their past events page, which is full of informative links.
There are of course many more things planned before the year comes to a close, so be sure to check out their site for information on events such as the exhibition of the 19th century “Perry Scroll” account of Commodore Perry’s voyage to Japan in 1854, ART: Big in Japan, a showcase of Japanese costume, a display of various Japanese clothing items collected over the past 20 years, an exhibition of shunga (Japanese erotic prints), and many others. Personally, I’m crying a little wishing I was there for workshops on maki-e, the craft of applying gold dust to lacquered objects, which is only going on through July (!).
So if you’re anywhere near the UK for the rest of the year, absolutely check out all the wonderful things going on in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Japan-British relations! If not, you can still find out a lot of interesting things and introduce yourself to tons of new artists of all kinds by looking through their website.