Resource: Tobunken-Sainsbury Institute Research Collections Database

The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) has just made available a new online database adding in English-language publications and media on Japanese arts, compiling books, exhibitions, etc. released/published within the last few years (and moving forward into the future) to a larger database already maintained by Tôbunken (National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo).

The URL is:

I have only just begun testing out how it works. I typed in “Okinawa” as the search terms, and found five results on fine arts, one on performing arts, and one exhibition catalog; these included two works in Japanese from an “Okinawa Artists Interview Project,” one in Japanese on “Okinawa Design,” one from 1975 on Cultural Assets of Okinawa, one conference proceedings volume from SISJAC itself entitled “Okinawa: The Rise of an Island Kingdom – Archaeological and Cultural perspectives,” and the catalog for Okinawa Prismed, a 2008 exhibition of modern/contemporary Okinawan at at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

This seemingly appears to be drawing only on titles, not keywords, so many of the other publications, exhibit catalogs, etc. which have come out in recent years on Okinawan subjects did not come up on this particular search; the search term “Ryukyu” brought out additional, different results. The database also seems to be particularly focused on “art” in a slightly narrow way – though a few books on Okinawan archaeology did come up, exhibit catalogs for history exhibits (that certainly featured plenty of artworks and artifacts) did not. But, this is only a very tentative poke at what the database might include and not include; I imagine it is also continually in the process of being expanded.

The database also includes records from a few very specific sources, such as the Kuroda Seiki Memorial Hall, Kuroda’s diary, and illustrations from Bijutsu Gahô. So I invite you to give it a go yourself and see what it can do for you.

Here is the official announcement from SISJAC, as reposted from the Japan Art History Forum mailing list:

The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC) would like to introduce to you an online Japanese arts related resources database that we have been developing in collaboration with the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (Tôbunken).

Following the establishment of a collaborative agreement between SISJAC and Tobunken, SISJAC has been collecting information on Japanese arts related English publications, exhibitions and film festivals that have taken place outside of Japan since 2013.

We hope that this database will develop into an indispensable tool for research on Japanese arts in and outside of Japan. For more information on the database and SISJAC’s role in this project, and to search the Tobunken Research Collections, please follow the link below.

Please note that our database is not an English translation of the information collated by Tobunken but it complements the existing databases created by them. Please also note that the publications and exhibitions in English language that predate December 2012 are not included in this database.

About Travis

I am a scholar of Japanese & Okinawan history with a particular interest in the history of arts and culture, and inter-Asia interactions, in the early modern period. I have been fortunate to enjoy the opportunity to live in Okinawa for six months in 2016-17, and in mainland Japan on multiple occasions, including from Sept 2019 to now.
This entry was posted in announcements, culture, study tools, useful links and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s