Living with Ceramics in Japan: From Edo (1603-1868) to Meiji (1868-1912)

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June 13 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EDT

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This online talk will explore how people in Japan used ceramics during the Edo period, when the Tokugawa shogunate ruled the archipelago and the samurai held political and military dominance, and the Meiji period, when the emperor was symbolically restored to power and modernization transformed the nation.

Using extant examples of ceramics from a variety of museum collections, the lecture will consider ceramics in plebian, everyday contexts, used for daily offerings at altars, for family meals, or for tea and sake drinking with friends. It will also discuss the use of ceramics in politically and economically significant encounters, such as gifts to a samurai lord, meetings between merchants and customers, tribute offerings to the Tokugawa shoguns, and diplomatic exchanges between the Meiji government and their global counterparts.

This talk is presented to complement our ongoing exhibition titled “From Edo to Meiji: Transformation of Japanese Ceramics”.

The Speaker

Dr. Morgan Pitelka is the Bernard L. Herman Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with joint appointments in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Department of History. He is a historian of medieval and early modern Japan who focuses on material culture, environmental history, and urban history. His new project is an environmental and cultural history of early modern Kyoto. His most recent book, Reading Medieval Ruins: Urban Life and Destruction in Sixteenth-Century Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2022) was named one of the ten best humanities books in Asian Studies by the International Convention of Asia Scholars and received the honorable mention for the John Whitney Hall Book Prize in Japanese Studies.



Related Programming: 

JFT Book Club (Hybrid)– With Silent Reading Time – Japanese Ceramics & Life in the Edo to Meiji Periods

Tuesday, June 18, 5:30PM – 7:00PM (ET)
Hybrid (Online & In-Person) | JFT Library | Admission Free | Registration Required

Are you interested in learning deeper about Japanese arts, as well as the culture and history behind those works of art? Our upcoming hybrid-style book club meeting, inspired by the JFT Gallery’s current exhibition, invites you to explore the beauty of Japanese ceramics and life during the Edo and Meiji periods through books! No prior knowledge/preparation is required – pick a book from the library’s book list (or bring your own) and indulge in the simple pleasure of reading in silence. Afterward, engage in optional discussion to share your discoveries with fellow book, art, and history enthusiasts. This is a perfect opportunity to enhance your understanding of Japanese arts and culture while connecting with like-minded individuals. We welcome both seasoned book club members and first-time participants to join this enriching literary and cultural experience!

Details here


June 13 @ 6:00 pm
June 13 @ 7:30 pm
Event Category:


The Japan Foundation, Toronto
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