March 23 2016: Imagining Nihon-bashi, the Fulcrum of the Shogun's Realm

Timon Screech, Head of the school of Arts, SOAS

Nihon-bashi (the 'Bridge of Japan') was built in 1603 to commemorate creation of the new shogunate. It was designated as the centre of Edo and the zero-point of all distances throughout Japan. Yet where did the idea come from and what did Nihon-bashi mean? No Japanese city had ever before been equipped with an official centre. The authorities used the site to gather buildings and monuments symbolising Tokugawa rule, and this lecture will offer a new interpretation of the iconography and meaning of Nihon-bashi.

Venue: Lipsius 028
Time: 11:00-13:00 hours
Date: Wednesdag 23rd March, 2016

About the speaker

Timon Screech was born in Birmingham, UK, and received a BA (Hons.) in Oriental Studies (Japanese) at Oxford, before completing his Ph.D at Harvard in 1991. He also studied at the universities of Geneva and Gakushuin. He has taught the history of Japanese art at SOAS, University of London, since 1991, and in 2006 became Professor of the History of Art. He is Head of the Department of the History of Art & Archaeology, and Head of the School of Arts, SOAS.

Screech is the author of some dozen books on the visual culture of the Edo period. His PhD was published as The Lens Within the Heart: The Western Scientific Gaze and Popular Imagery in Later Edo Japan (CUP 1996) and is still in print in a second edition (Curzon, 2002). Perhaps his best-known work is Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan, 1700-1820 (Reaktion, 1999; second, expanded edition, 2009). More recently, he has introduced and edited the writings of two 18th-century travellers, as, Japan Extolled and Decried: Carl Peter Thunberg and the Shogun’s Realm, 1775-1796 (Routledge, 2005), and Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822 (Routledge, 2006). His field-defining general study, Obtaining Images: Art, Production and Display in Edo Japan was published in 2012 (Reaktion Books/Hawaii University Press). His numerous writings have been translated into French, Japanese, Korean, Polish and Romanian. He is currently working on the early history of the East India Company, and its role in cultural exchange.

Last Modified: 08-03-2016