The Asiatic Society 
of Japan

Next lecture: Monday, April 22, 2024 18:00 JST

Dr. Anna-Maria Wiljanen, Director, The Finnish Institute in Japan
‘The Finnish Artists’ Colonies villas and the Japanese Sansou in the Modern Age – their similarities through the lens of National Romanticism and togetherness with nature’   


JST 2024.4.22
Dr. Anna-Maria Wiljanen, Director, The Finnish Institute in Japan

‘The Finnish Artists’ Colonies villas and the Japanese Sansou in the Modern Age – their similarities through the lens of National Romanticism and togetherness with nature’

My lecture will present the ongoing research project done in collaboration with the Finnish Institute in Japan and associate professor Taishi Watanabe at Waseda university. This pioneering research compares the villas built in the Finnish Artists´ Colonies, and the Japanese Sansou homes. The research question is: what were their similarities through the lens of creativity, the importance of nature and national romanticism. During the lecture, first, the Artists´ Colony and Community phenomenon will be discussed. Then, the importance of nature to art and artists´ homes and the emerging nationalism will be reviewed.

The art circles in Finland were small and the art world and exhibition practices were taking shape. Many artists got to know each other during their student years both in Finland and abroad. Their social networks came to play a decisive role in the establishment and internationalization of art. In addition to contacts between artists, relationships arose between officials and art institutions, patrons, artists and art schools. New phenomena in the art world and their popularity spread within these networks. One of the phenomena during the nineteenth century European art scene were the artists´ colonies that had a great significance to artistic life. The phenomenon spread from Barbizon in France to Germany, Holland, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, England and to the Nordic countries, including Finland.  

Brief Biography:  
Anna-Maria Wiljanen, Ph.D., M.Sc. was appointed to the position of Director of the Finnish Institute in Japan on January 1st, 2018. She has previously worked as the Executive Director of the UPM Kymmene Cultural Foundation in Helsinki. Before that she worked for ten years in various positions at the Finnish National Gallery, most recently as the Deputy Head of Development and as a Communications Manager. Dr. Wiljanen also has extensive experience of working in the corporate world.

Dr. Wiljanen defended her doctoral dissertation in Art History at the University of Helsinki, Finland in 2014. She also holds a master’s degree in Political Science with Economics as her major from Åbo Akademi University.

Dr. Wiljanen is the vice-president of the Board of Directors of the Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Japan (FCCJ). She is also the chairperson of the Board of the Didrichsen Art Foundation that runs Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland. Dr. Wiljanen is also a member of ICOM Finland (International Council of Museums).

Dr. Wiljanen’s research interests are the European Artists’ colonies during the nineteenth century, network theory, social networks between artists, women artists, artists’ houses and the mobility between artists.

Online Lecture Programme 2024

JST 2024.5.21 (Tuesday)  
Prof. Pierre-Yves Donzé, Professor of Business History, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics
‘Swiss business and diplomacy in Japan during World War II’  

   JST 2024.6.17 (Monday)
Dr. Yoshiyuki Sankai, President and CEO of Cyberdene
‘Pioneering the Future of Science and Technology Innovation in Asia through Cybernics’  

JST 2024.9.30 (Monday)
Dr. Clare Pollard, Curator at the Ashmolean Museum, and Associate Member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford University
‘Satsuma, Sakahoko and Sir Herbert: the Ingram Collection of Satsuma Ceramics at the Ashmolean Museum’  

JST 2024.10.21 (Monday) 2024 Young Scholars’ Programme


Call for Papers

The Asiatic Society of Japan (ASJ) is Japan's oldest learned society, with its inaugural meeting in Yokohama in 1872. Inspired by the Royal Asiatic Societies of their day, ASJ's founders coordinated activities "to collect and publish information on subjects relating to Japan and other Asiatic Countries." Yet they intentionally differentiated ASJ from these affiliated societies at the outset by having established a "Society for scholarly gentlemen" rather than a society of scholars. The founders and earliest members were pillars of Japan's modernization and industrialization at the dawn of the Meiji Period. Physicians, engineers, barristers, missionaries, military officers, professors, and diplomats numbered among them, including Dr. James Hepburn, Sir Ernest Satow, Basil Hall Chamberlain, and William Aston. Today, the Society serves members of a general audience that have shared interests in Japan and the country’s myriad of connections with the world.

The Young Scholars’ Programme was initiated by the Society in 2006 at the suggestion of the Honorary Patron, HIH Princess Takamado, to give researchers at doctoral level the opportunity to present their research on Japan and/or Asia and answer questions on it in English. This year’s event will be held on Monday, 21 October. It will be held either entirely online or hybrid, so young scholars from around the world are encouraged to apply.

The closing date for nominations this year is midnight on Monday, 19 August. All nominated candidates (to be first selected by a university professor or other nominator) should submit the following:

a) A provisional title for their presentation
b) Details of their field of research
c) A CV or brief biography
d) A formal letter of recommendation on headed notepaper from his/her academic supervisor supporting the application*
supervisor supporting the application*

* Candidates may submit their materials directly to the Asiatic Society of Japan, via e-mail, to However, the letter of recommendation should be submitted to by the academic supervisor (not the candidate).

☆ Certificate of Recognition from the ASJ Board and HIH Princess Takamado, the Honorary Patron of the Asiatic Society of Japan
☆ Research award of 50,000 yen, courtesy of the Hugh E. Wilkinson Foundation
☆ Article to be submitted to the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, the Society’s
annual journal

A maximum of four young scholars (up to age 35, although consideration will be given to those up to age 40) will be selected to give a presentation for 20 minutes each. Candidates will be notified of the selection results at the beginning of September.

  * For further details, please e-mail the ASJ Office at,   and title your e-mail ‘2024 Young Scholars’ Programme’

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© 1999 - 2023 The Asiatic Society of Japan - All Rights Reserved