Last Thursday saw the long-awaited beginning of the Olympic torch relay in Fukushima Prefecture. Over the next three months, it will be working its way down the east coast of Japan to Okinawa before returning up the west coast, looping back from Hokkaido down to Tokyo for the final stretch.
Over that three-month period, much will be going on at the Centre for Japanese Studies. Over April, I will be assisting my colleagues at the Sainsbury Institute in preparing an exhibition on the 1,400th anniversary of the passing of Prince Shōtoku Taishi who is credited in Japan with bringing Buddhism to the archipelago. I will be responsible for researching and writing up the text for a wooden Shinto deity statue held at the Sainsbury Centre which may be a representation of one of Shōtoku’s wives. As part of the exhibit, we are currently exploring scanning the statue for a “dendro date” by conducting a CT scan to determine the tree rings of the single piece of wood. If are suspicions are true, we can expect the wood to be dated to roughly the lifetime of Prince Shōtoku.
We are also planning for our Online Summer Programme this year to coincide with the relay from the 12th – 23rd July, ending as the torch arrives at the Olympic stadium in Tokyo. Sport will also be playing a heavy theme to compliment the Olympics. Applications are now open, so do sign up!
As I will be working on the Shōtoku exhibit over April, I will be taking leave from my duties and so will not be producing any blogposts for the month. However, Simon will be writing up regular Jōmon Relay posts referencing the Jōmon-era history of each site the torch passes through, so expect plenty of content yet to come. I will also continue producing Beyond Japan episodes related to the exhibit. I hope you will tune in and look forward to writing for you in May. Until then, I hope you all enjoy the Easter break!