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The Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of art exhibitions on campus. Since its move to the Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS) in 2005, RIJS has mounted numerous major exhibitions in the Japan Friends of Harvard Concourse, listed below.


Irresolution: The Paintings of Yoshiaki Shimizu
7 September – 31 October 2017

“Irresolution” was the first retrospective of the artistic career of Yoshiaki Shimizu (b. 1936), a Japanese-born, Harvard-trained painter and later historian of Japanese art. Exploring a multitude of styles, including ancient Japanese sculpture, Abstract Expressionism, Nipponism, and the New York School, these works chronicled Shimizu’s navigation through the different art worlds of Cambridge, MA; New York; Hamburg, Germany; and Kyoto, Japan.

Curated by Yukio Lippit, with Stacie Matsumoto.

(Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 can all be found on Google Arts and Culture.)


From Artistry to Ethnography
2 July – 27 September 2015

This exhibition displayed a collection of photographs in conjunction with the publication of The Journey of “A Good Type”: From Artistry to Ethnography in Early Japanese Photographs by David Odo. Following the volume, this exhibition examined photographs collected by Boston-area travelers in the 1860s and archived at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. A reception and book signing was also hosted on 10 September 2015.

Curated by David Odo, with Stacie Matsumoto and Holly Angell, co-sponsored by Asia Center.


The Thinking Hand: Tools and Traditions of the Japanese Carpenter
17 January – 25 March 2014

Also part of the RIJS 40th anniversary celebration, “The Thinking Hand” featured historical Japanese carpentry tools donated by the Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum in Kobe, Japan, to the Graduate School of Design as a resource for architecture students. Introduced by the Takenaka carpentry team in a live demonstration at the exhibition’s opening, these sixty-two tools represented a base set that would have been used for wooden architecture by a daiku (master carpenter) in the Kansai region during the early 20th century. The collection was accompanied by sections of trees and wood shavings, as well as a full-size sukiya teahouse constructed in situ for public viewing.

Curated by Yukio Lippit and Mark Mulligan, with Yukari Swanson and Stacie Matsumoto.


Tomokazu Matsuyama | Palimpsest
1 September – 1 November 2013

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, RIJS hosted an exhibition of paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Tomokazu Matsuyama (b. 1976). Titled “Palimpsest,” after a parchment text that has been washed and reused, leaving traces of earlier writing underneath, this exhibition showcased a selection of paintings distinctive for their many layers of influence, from Japanese woodblock prints of the Tokugawa and Meiji periods to postwar Abstract Expressionism and late 20th-century American street art. Blending together traditional Japanese elements and contemporary Western themes, these works also reflected the artist’s own multicultural experience across Japan and the U.S.

Curated by David Howell, with Stacie Matsumoto.


Mizue Sawano | Eternal Return
1 September – 31 October 2011
1 March – 21 May 2012

In collaboration with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Committee on African Studies, RIJS hosted two exhibitions of oil paintings by internationally acclaimed artist Mizue Sawano. The fall exhibition was on display in the Japan Friends of Harvard Concourse, while the spring exhibition was on display in the First Floor Gallery. After spending many years in New York City, where she took inspiration from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Sawano began painting flora and other natural themes, employing vibrant colors and soft nuances of light. Among the sixteen canvases on display were works from her extensive trips to North Africa and from her cherry orchard series, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Japan’s 1912 gift of cherry trees to Washington, D.C.

Curated by Melissa McCormick, with Stacie Matsumoto.


Mitsuko Asakura | Tapestry in Architecture: Creating Human Spaces
15 September – 14 November 2008

With support from the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS) and Japan Society of Boston, RIJS hosted its first exhibition in the Japan Friends of Harvard Concourse, titled “Tapestry in Architecture: Creating Human Spaces.” Adorning the walls with exquisite silk tapestries by Kyoto-based artist Mitsuko Asakura, this exhibition represented the artist’s desire to impact ordinary environments where people live and work. Also featured was a DVD explaining the weaving process, demonstrated and narrated by the artist herself.