Greetings from the President

Mabuchi Akiko

-> Japanese

The Society for the Study of Japonisme began as a small academic association in 1980 with about 20 members. The five key founding members were said to be Professors Yamada Chisaburō, Ōshima Seiji, Segi Shin’ichi, Ikegami Chūji and Haga Tōru. All except Professor Haga had already passed away. The Society was initially named “The Society for the Study of Japonaiserie,” and in 1998 was changed to the current name, “The Society for the Study of Japonisme.”

It is difficult to define Japonisme, but it generally refers to the Western artists’ interests in Japanese arts and cultures that followed the re-opening of Japan to Western trade in the late nineteenth century, and the works that resulted from engagement with Japanese artistic styles and concepts. These interests in Japan were often integrated into the search for new artistic expressions. Japonisme impacted a wide range of artistic and cultural activities from the fine arts in the narrow sense of the term such as painting, sculpture and the prints, to other media such as architecture, interior design, decorative arts, literature, the performing arts, and music.

The growing availability of information about Japan, including the formation of Japanese art collections, was indispensable for the expansion of Japonisme. The scope of our research thus also includes the circulation of cheaply made objects from Japan such as fans, lanterns, and other daily objects which may not necessarily be classified as “artworks.” In essence, the Society promotes research on how “Japanese-ness” in the broad sense of the term has been received in the West, what kind of objects were created as a result, and the thinking that informed these crosscultural encounters.

I have been given the privilege of taking over Professor Sakamoto Mitsuru’s place as president after his six years of service to the Society. Professor Sakamoto is widely informed of Eastern and Western art histories and has explored them from a broad perspective and with great curiosity. With his distinctive and gentle eloquence, he offers keen insights and has opened the eyes of younger members, who sometimes get settled on a narrow viewpoint. It will be a challenge but I am honored to continue the work of Professor Sakamoto and my other illustrious predecessors.

The Society for the Study of Japonisme, despite its small beginning, now has nearly 200 members. With the generous support of the Ishibashi Foundation, we decided to redesign our annual journal into a bilingual format in Japanese and English from the 2013 issue. We hope this will encourage the further participation of overseas scholars. More than three decades have passed since the founding of the Society, and we are happy to see a steady increase in our activities. Our scholarship has also become more rigorous, with many more scholars conducting extensive research overseas. With these developments, I believe that the Society is taking a significant leap forward in raising its academic standard.

As we strive to refine the quality of our scholarly research, we will also constantly reflect on the lessons we have learned from our predecessors ? to understand cultural exchange from a broad perspective, which entails an understanding of the history and cultures of Japan, and to share the joy of research with many others. In so doing, I hope the Society will continue to be an active academic force that stimulates discussion across various academic disciplines and cultural fields. (Translated by Sano Meiko)