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Focus 5a+6: Artist as Profession in Japan (I)


Admission requirements

Students are expected to have successfully completed a BA2 Japanese Studies Focus course in art history, literature/film, or pre-modern history. Otherwise please consult instructor.

The course is divided into two parts – painting workshop given by Prof. Saito Norihiko and theoretical part taught by Dr. Ewa Machotka.
The students interested only in painting practice can register only for the painting workshop (5 sessions) but they will not get credits (0 EC) for it.
To receive full credits (5 EC) the students have to take the whole course taught by Prof. Saito and Dr Machotka (12 sessions).


The course investigates the concept of “artist” in Japan from epistemological, historical and practical perspective. As the course features the painting workshop conducted by Japanese traditional-style painter Prof. Saitō Norihiko, where students can try their hand in creation of “art objects”, it also gives an exceptional opportunity to experience the processes of artistic creation. The course addresses the issue of multiplicity of practices associated with visual culture production in pre-modern Japan, the birth of an “artist” as a creator of “high art” in modern times and postmodern “art celebrity”. It explores the dynamics of production, consumption and evaluation of art in Japan.

More information about Artist in Residence programme

Course Objectives

Student will develop:
1. an understanding of the role of socio-political context in the development of art, as opposed to the concept of so-called “universal art”.
2. an ability to critically read, assess, present and discuss academic texts related to the field.
3. theoretical and critical skills necessary for the development of independent research leading to the presentation of final thesis.


See course schedule

Mode of instruction

Seminar (werkgroep) with lecture elements.

Assessment method

  • Participation element (participation in class, oral presentation): 30%

  • Review element (literature review): 20%

  • Research element (research essay): 30%

  • Summative element (exam and/or postings): 20%

Reading list

Reader, to follow.


Students can sign up to the class via uSis. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Students interested in participating ONLY in the Painting Workshop can sign up by sending mail to Dr. E. Machotka

Extra information

Japanese Art Seminar at the Siebold House