Rescuing Archaeology and Culture:
assessing the impact of the March 2011 disaster on cultural heritage

26 October 2011 at 18:30 (Doors open at 18:00)
Embassy of Japan | 101-104 Piccadilly | London W1J 7JT

Presented by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and the Embassy of Japan with the support of the Japan Foundation, the Japan Society and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation

Speakers: Professor Akira Matsui (Nara National Cultural Properties Research Institute and Kyoto University); Lisa Hammond (Studio Potter); Dr Akira Matsuda (University of East Anglia)

Moderator: Dr Simon Kaner (Sainsbury Institute and University of East Anglia)

Please reserve your seat early to avoid disappointment. To book, please email your name, contact details and organisational affiliation to bunkazai@ld.mofa.go.jp or else phone 020-7465-6589.

Registration prior to the event is essential. You will be asked to present photographic identification upon entry to the Embassy of Japan.


Sifting through the debris looking for archaeological treasures at the remains of the Ishinomaki Culture Centre in Miyagi


The scene after the tsunami at the Jomon period Satohama shell middens in Matsushima Bay

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March 2011 caused destruction and devastation on a massive scale: close to 20,000 people were killed or are missing, over 110,000 homes were destroyed, and thousands of people have been displaced or are homeless.  As well as the overwhelming human loss, the disaster had a massive impact on the cultural heritage of the affected region. 

The Pacific coast of the Tohoku region is home to a rich variety of unique and vulnerable cultural assets, including archaeological sites, museums, landscapes, and of course artists and a wide range of specialists and practitioners involved in the cultural industries and heritage. The Agency for Cultural Affairs reports that over 700 designated cultural properties, ranging from artworks to archaeological sites, were affected. Museums and other cultural facilities were destroyed. 

This symposium introduces some of the projects involved in the recovery of cultural heritage in the aftermath of the disaster, and will consider what more can be done. 


Professor Akira Matsui (Director, Centre for Archaeological Operations, Nara National Cultural Properties Research Institute and Professor of the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies at Kyoto University).  Professor Matsui is a graduate of Tohoku University and has undertaken many archaeological investigations in the affected region.  A specialist in the application of scientific techniques in archaeology, he has been closely involved in the Bunkazai Rescue initiative, working on the ground in the affected region to recover archaeological remains and other cultural assets. See website http://antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/kaner329.


Lisa Hammond is a British studio potter with a close relationship to Japanese ceramics.  In 2003-4 she spent time making pots in Mino, Gifu Prefecture, and has been monitoring the damage caused by the earthquake to kilns associated with Bernard Leach and in Mashiko.  A Fellow and Vice-Chair of the Craft Potters Association of Britain, she specialises in the use of salt and soda glazes.  She taught ceramics at Goldsmith’s College London, has lectured and exhibited widely, and was described on the Ceramics Arts Daily website as ‘the best woman potter working in Britain’. See website http://www.lisahammond-pottery.co.uk.





The tsunami completely destroyed the archaeological store at Yamada Town in Iwate


Dr Akira Matsuda is Lecturer in Artistic and Archaeological Heritage at the University of East Anglia.  A specialist in the study and practice of cultural heritage, following studies at the University of Tokyo, he completed his PhD at University College London prior to taking up a Handa Japanese Archaeology Fellowship at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.  He is a member of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage and is on the Council of the World Archaeology Congress.

The event is moderated by Dr Simon Kaner, Head of the Centre for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. 

Embassy of Japan