Looking back | symposium the context of ukiyo-e

Looking back | symposium the context of ukiyo-e

To celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Society for Japanese Art, we staged a symposium titled ‘The context of Ukiyo-e’ in Leiden, the Netherlands on February 4-5 2023.

The Symposium offered exactly what the founders of the SJA had in mind when they first congregated: “bring together people who are interested in the different genres of Japanese art to further the appreciation and encourage the study of the same.” 

We started off with a joint visit to the exhibition ‘The Riddles of Ukiyo-e’ : Women and men in Japanese Prints (1765-1865) at the Japan Museum SieboldHuis. Then we went on to the Museum Volkenkunde (Museum of Ethnology, part of the National Museum of World Cultures) in Leiden. This was a fitting venue for the SJA anniversary, as the first chairman Chris C. Krieger, was curator of Asia at this museum. After a short introduction by Matti Forrer, Siebold Professor of Material Culture of Pre-modern Japan at Leiden University, we watched a screening of the Japanese filmdrama ‘Hokusai’. The film was followed by a panel discussion led by Matti Forrer. The day ended with a cocktail party and an optional dinner. 

On Sunday February 5, the day started with the keynote address by Julie Nelson Davis (University of Pennsylvania),  “Context Matters: Reframing Ukiyo-e”, followed by the other speakers: 

  • Doreen Muller (Leiden University): "Uncovering the Hidden Legacies of the Tenpō Era Famine in Nineteenth Century Prints.”
  • Alfred Haft (British Museum, London): “Time-off in Edo : Considering the city's places of leisure, with a focus on Takanawa."
  • Paul Griffith (Kabuki specialist, translator for the Kabuki-za, Tokyo): “Surpassing the Strength of Men : Kabuki Heroines of the Warrior Class.”
  • Angelika Koch (Leiden University): “Smallpox in Print : Disease, Publishing and Advertisement.”
  • Mary Redfern (Chester Beatty Library, Dublin) will speak about a Gakutei surimono series (title forthcoming)

Daan Kok, board member of the SJA and Curator Japan and Korea at the Museum of Ethnology led the day and the Q&A's which allowed for the public to exchange views with the speakers. We ended the day with many thanks to the speakers who gave us interesting insights on the context of Ukiyo-e and to the organizing committee consisting of Chris Uhlenbeck, Paul Belien, Jim Dwinger and Teatske Kramer.

The lectures are recorded and will be made available on our website for SJA members.