Tokyo: Art & Photography

Back in July (2021) I attended a webinar for a book launch of Tokyo: Art & Photography. The webinar was fabulous, providing insights into the book itself.

The webinar was organised by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and is available on YouTube.

One thing that became clear during the webinar is that there was also an exhibition being held at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Knowing that I would be going to Oxford in August, I was keen to get the exhibition and pick up a copy of the book there.

And so it was that I went to the exhibition this past weekend, effectively becoming the first bit of fieldwork that I have done for doing the update to Japan: The Basics.

The main reason why the webinar, book, and exhibition appealed to me was due to my interest in symbolism – which a theme that runs throughout much of my research (and teaching) and is a particular feature of my book, Japan: The Basics. Indeed, the front cover of the first edition of that book featured sakura (cherry blossom) and cherry blossom similarly features heavily at the start of the exhibition as you can see in the following picture.

The ticket said to allow an hour for the visit. This seemed a lot when I got there as I’ve been to bigger exhibitions of various sorts, but it did, indeed, take me an hour to go around. You are welcome to take photographs of most of what is on display – which I did as I’d not picked up my copy of the book yet so wasn’t sure if everything on display (particularly the ones that I liked) would be in the book or not. Other than some videos, I think I’m right in saying that all the photographs on display are in the book (which also contains additional pictures that weren’t in the exhibition).

In terms of the symbolism, there are a few things that stood out for me in relation to the choice of themes that seemed to be particularly prominent and this is something that I will need to consider further as I read the book and work on the second edition of Japan: The Basics and my other work on symbolism.

I don’t want to say anything further about the art or photography or pick out examples as I think it’s the combination that makes it so effective (of course, this issue of differences and how they go together is something that also gets discussed in Japan: The Basics).

You can also find a review of the exhibition in the Guardian – Tokyo: Art and Photography review – all of spellbinding life is here.

If you get a chance, be sure to get a copy of the book and visit the exhibition.

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