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Japanese Studies

Welcome to the UCLA Library Guide for Japanese Studies. This guide presents both introductory and in-depth information for Japan-related research.

Open Edo - October 12, 2023, April 19, 2024

Open Edo: Diverse, Ecological, and Global Perspectives on Japanese Art, 1603-1868
Conference 1: Global Edo: Edo in the World and the World in Edo
Kristopher W. Kersey

The subject of this initial conference is the longstanding myth that Japan was hermetically sealed from the rest of the world from the 1630s to 1853. While international travel and trade were indeed forbidden, Japan remained networked with the those beyond its shores through trade with the continent, the Dutch, the Ainu, and the Ryūkyūs. During this period, fantasies of Japan proliferated abroad, just as fantasies of the outside world proliferated in Japan. Yet the restrictions on international exchange did not mean that Japan was somehow isolated from modernity. In fact, the metropolis of Edo actually exhibited many of the aspects that would later come to be seen as “modern” by the European definition of the term. Put more forcefully, early modernity seemed to thrive in a society that eschewed the Eurocentric model of “globalization.” Likewise, one should not conflate the Edo metropolis with the eponymous era, for an exciting feature of early modern Japan is the existence of multiple metropolitan centers, from Osaka and Kyoto to Nagasaki. As such, this initial conference seeks papers that will reframe the Edo period in more porous, global, networked, and dynamic terms.  

Open Edo: Diverse, Ecological, and Global Perspectives on Japanese Art, 1603-1868
Conference 3: Edo Outsiders: Ainu and Ryūkyūan Art
Kristopher W. Kersey

Fall 2023 Art His 251B Seminar

Open Edo (Fall 2023)
Art History (ART HIS) 251B - Seminar: Japanese Art
Kristopher W. Kersey

This seminar scrutinizes the art and material culture of Japan’s Edo period (1603–1868 CE) with a special focus on three themes: international encounters (both real and imaginary); the notion, construction, and representation of landscape; and the materiality of the Edo mediascape. The seminar is in conjunction with “Open Edo: Diverse, Ecological, and Global Perspectives on Japanese Art,” the 2023–2024 Core Program at the UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies and William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. Weekly meetings will address a variety of themes: global interfaces ca. 1600, nanban art, the politics of mimesis (真景 shinkei, 写生 shasei, 写真 shashin), the diversity of painting, the history of science (本草学 honzōgaku, 解体 kaitai), garden design, and the history of print. Topics may change in response to student interest. Two postdoctoral guest speakers will lead half-seminars. As much as possible, the seminar will convene before primary materials in local archives: the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum (UCLA), Special Collections (UCLA), the East Asian Library Special Collections (UCLA). Neither knowledge of the Japanese language nor experience with Japanese art is required, although these are certainly beneficial. Enrollment by consent of instructor.

Open Edo Conference Photos