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2009 Vol.4
Cross-Boundary Frontiers of Art and Japan’s Strategy


Art is generally regarded as a field with little relation to the frontiers of government policy, business management, and industrial technology. However, this paper begins with a re-examination of the basic policy of post-shogunate Japan from the standpoint of art. Facing tight financial conditions after the Seinan War, the Meiji government used antiques and traditional craft techniques as a basis of credit in an attempt to replenish its dwindling foreign currency reserves, which subsequently led to the establishment of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. Japanese traditional arts, as seen in lacquer ware and bamboo works, surprisingly had direct connections with contemporary advanced innovations such as Thomas Edison’s light bulb and phonographs.
This paper also reexamines the view that a financial crisis can be overcome with a meaningful creation of value supported by real assets and the relevant works of Ernest Fenollosa, Tenshin Okakura, and Shisui Rokkaku, using examples including an episode surrounding the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. The re-examination actually became the basis of the model that the author used in preparation for a grand design for the University of Tokyo project for structuring knowledge (2001-2005). In 1999 the author, became the first professor of art in the university’s 122-year history and, in the process of an”IT revolution”, tried to create a twentyfirst century version of the work completed 100 years ago by Fenollosa, Okakura, Rokkaku, and Hougai Kano. This attempt is discussed concisely.
As successful examples of similar attempts, this paper considers the possible 2016 Olympic Games in Tokyo, as well as a case from the university. Compared with the 1889 Paris World’s Fair, the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, and the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, the characteristics of the Olympic Games plan proposed by Fukuoka City, which lost to Tokyo in the bid for the candidate host city status, are reassessed. Throughout the paper, the author points out the potential of Japan as a”connoisseur appraiser”as a key concept for a multidisciplinary exploration of industrial and technological frontiers.