The interest towards subjects related to East Asia and, particularly Japan, has increased during the last years in Spain both in scientific or scholar fields and the general public. Since the 90´s, important cultural institutions and scholar centres devoted to East Asia have been created in our country; new degrees and subjects about Japan have been introduced in the academic courses of different Spanish universities and, in the same way, several research groups and projects have been generated. However, and despite all these advances, we are still far away from the situation of Japanese studies abroad, because other European and American countries count on an older tradition in this subject.
A monograph from Artigrama magazine, titled The Far Eastern Art Collecting in Spain published in 2003 and edited by Elena Barlés and David Almazán is the unique and valuable state of the art about Japanese art collections in our country, this monograph was presented in the 15th Annual Conference of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists, held in Salamanca in 2004. This state of the art makes evident that the private and public collections of Japanese art in Spain do not have the magnitude as other European or American similar collections since they show irregularities in contents and quality but they have a huge historic and aesthetic interest considered as a whole. We can even find some exceptional art objects. Unfortunately collecting Japanese art in Spain had not been studied in depth.
As a result of this situation, professor Elena Barlés created in 2004 the research group Japan and Spain: relationships through art (www.unizar.es/jye) with the purpose to study the presence, collecting and impact of Japanese art in Spain. The team includes the main specialists on Japanese art in Spain; a group of Professors and researchers from a number of universities with extensive professional experience in the different areas of Japanese art. Their members are Dr. Elena Barlés, principal investigator and coordinator, (firstname.lastname@example.org , Zaragoza University) and Dr. David Almazán (email@example.com, Zaragoza University); Dr. Pilar Cabañas (firstname.lastname@example.org Complutense University of Madrid); Dr. Yayoi Kawamura (email@example.com, Oviedo University); Professor Muriel Gómez (firstname.lastname@example.org, University Oberta de Catalunya). Finally, mention must be made of the presence of Fernando García Gutiérrez (email@example.com), pioneer of the Spanish studies of Japanese art and with a wide experience in Japanese universities. The team has also incorporated a group of young researchers who are opening up new lines of investigation. In our opinion, the geographical diversity of these centres, as well as the different specialization in such diverse aspects of Japanese art, allows this group to share experiences, knowledge and traditions.
The group was started the research project Inventory and catalog of Japanese art in public museums and institutions and private museums in Spain, HUM2005-05188 (2005- 2008), which deserved the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology, including the group in the National Plan for the Scientific Research, Development and Technological Innovation (I+D). Then, the research group has received funding for another nine years to develop the projects I+D: Cataloguing and study of collections of traditional and contemporary Japanese art in Spain in public and private museums, HAR2008-05784 (2009-2011) and the collection and Japanese art collectors in Spain, HAR2011-26140 (2012-2014). After, the research group has received funding for six more years under the title: Cataloguing and Study of Collections of Traditional and Contemporary Japanese Art in Spain in Public and Private Museums, HAR2008-05784 (2009-2011), Collecting and collectors of Japanese art in Spain, HAR2011-26140 (2012-2014) and Main figures in the presence and impact of japanese art in Spain, HAR2014-55851-P (2015-2017).
The results of research projects have been diffused through printed publications and the presentation of papers in conferences nationals and internationals as well as by the group’s website and by the means of organizing exhibitions, seminars and courses (transfer of knowledge) and specialised conferences. For our research group has been very important: promotion and international projection of research, the cooperation with other consolidated national and international groups, the impulse of young researchers’ work. we hope this project settles an open, good and clear friendship with students and researchers in Europe and Japan, practicing the exchange on different knowledge, methods and experiences.