2020 marks the 40th anniversary of when I first became interested in Japanese swords. In that time the world has changed significantly, not least with the introduction of the internet as a general tool for business and personal use and the incredible advance in information technology that has enabled peoples to study and to buy from around the world and from the comfort of their home.
It is possible to sit on your favourite chair in front of a screen for many hours (I know because on occasion I do it) with the world at your fingertips and through diligent application you can learn all you need to know about any given subject. Except it isn’t true, you can’t.
Over the years of interest in the subject I have been involved with a number of sword societies and served in various roles within them. some of the most challenging situations I have had to deal with is when a new member, just starting out in the field, approaches me full of enthusiasm and expectation to show me their first sword (usually purchased on line from a well known auction site). They have spent a lot of time (in some cases but not all) trawling the internet reading what they can and believing they have gained sufficient understanding to identify a national treasure being sold on line for a few hundred Euros. It is extremely difficult to shatter that enthusiastic illusion and no matter how often one does it, does not become easier.
The internet offers an incredible resource for the collector of Japanese, or any other art. However it is not a substitute or replacement for physically holding and looking at an artefact in hand. Nor does it replace personal interaction and discussion with fellow enthusiasts. In recent years I have had the good fortune to attend a number of regional meetings organised by the Token Society of Great Britain. I have also read the reports of Armour Society meetings all of which have been enthusiastically supported and all without exception received very positive feedback.
It may seem counterintuitive in this digital age to organise an event such as Japan Art expo. However, as experienced by those who attended the original Samurai Art Expo in 2018,this show offers an incredible and unique opportunity for the student of various Japanese art forms to meet leading specialist dealers from around the world and to interact with fellow enthusiasts.
The educational programme which runs alongside the commercial event is designed to have something for beginners and experienced students alike. It will cover a broad range of topics and illustrate the inter-relationship of various disciplines. The programme has also been planned to include a number of exercises such as sword and armour kantei which proved so popular in the 2018 meeting.
The exhibition which will run alongside the educational programme will include artefact which will illustrate and support the presentation material. It will offer an opportunity to see items of a quality not normally available outside Japan.
Early June 2020 in Utrecht will offer anyone with an interest in Japanese art and culture an incredible opportunity to see beautiful examples of different art forms, listen to people who have spent a lifetime in the study of their subject and to interact with people from throughout Europe with a shared interest.
Over the coming months this blog will introduce various aspects of the subjects being explored in the educational programme to help visitors to maximise their experience when attending.
We look forward to meeting you in June.