Robert Pontsioen

Research Fellow, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution


In 2016/17, Dr. Pontsioen spent 10 months in Tokyo for his fellowship. He also visited Kyoto, Osaka, Hachijojima, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Beppu, Nagasaki, Okinawa, and many other places.

The Japan Foundation fellowship facilitated my wide-ranging study of traditional Tokyo craft production, promotion, and preservation. The results of this research helps us to understand and improve the government support systems for traditional Tokyo crafts and thereby the preservation of this important aspect of Japan’s cultural heritage. My favourite memories are of sitting with master artisans in their workshops and homes (which are often the same place!) while they taught me about the world of traditional Japanese arts and crafts.

The Japan Foundation fellowship allowed me to complete valuable research in Japan that has positively impacted my career in many ways. My Japan Foundation research has resulted in several new publications, and while in Japan, I made many new professional contacts. [Since returning from Japan,] I have continued my study of Japanese traditional crafts; especially making efforts to learn more about the Japanese collections at the Smithsonian Institution through cooperative research with my museum colleagues and traditional artisans in Japan.