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The Founder

Hiroshi Sugimoto


Hiroshi Sugimoto’s signature practice spans the mediums of photography, sculpture, installation, architecture, and performing arts. His art deals with history and temporal existence through a variety of subject matters. He explores issues surrounding time, empiricism, and metaphysics that bridge Eastern and Western ideologies while examining the nature of perception and the origins of consciousness.

Sugimoto was born in Tokyo in 1948 and moved to the U.S.A. in 1970. He has lived in NYC since 1974. In 2008, he founded the New Material Research Laboratory, an architectural design office, and in 2009 he established the Odawara Art Foundation.

In 2015 when Sugimoto was photographing Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, he encountered the painting of Four Japanese Boys attending the opening reception of the theater in 1858. Sugimoto immediately realized that the boys were the Tenshō Embassy in the 16th century. The encounter with the Tenshō Embassy's legacy inspired Sugimoto to realize the series of artwork "Quatro Ragazzi". 

Core Members

Core Members

Paola Cavaliere, Ph.D.

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Paola Cavaliere is Associate Professor of Japanese Studies and Associate Director of the Human Sciences Undergraduate Degree Program at Osaka University, School of Human Sciences. She holds a double graduate degree in East Asian Studies (University of Sheffield, UK) and Law (Tohoku University, Japan). She specializes in gender in contemporary Japanese religious civil society and has published variously on women’s faith-based volunteering in post-disaster Japan. In 2004 she initiated the Azuchi Castle Folding Screen research project and conducted a three-year investigation on primary and secondary sources in the Vatican, Italy, and Japan. Her findings are published in the article ‘Azuchijō no zu byōbu: the Azuchi Castle Folding Screen’ (2008). She is a founding member of the ASRN (Azuchi Screens Research Network) established in 2017 and supervises its core research activities.

Core Members

Kiyono Shimbo, Ph.D.

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Kiyono Shimbo is a Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Graduate School of Chiba University. She obtained her Ph.D. at Chiba University, Japan in 2001, with her doctoral thesis on Marian imagery in processional banners during the pestilence crisis in Rome during Urban VIII. In 2001-2004, she studied at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" conducting historical research on the visual culture of Roman Baroque as a Postdoctoral Fellow for JSPS Research Abroad. From 2005 onward, she has taught Western art history in various universities in Japan, along with collaboration for Casabella Japan since 2008. Recently, she proceeds her studies on imagery of poverty, casualties, and female warriors in Early Modern Italy.

Core Members

Mark K Erdmann, Ph.D.


Mark K Erdmann, Ph.D. is a Lecturer in Art History at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Erdmann specializes in Japanese pre-modern architecture, particularly of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, and the intersection of space, painting, carpentry, and power. His research focuses on castles, warrior elite residences, palaces, as well as the Jesuit mission in Japan and their impact on visual culture. He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 2016 and Masters from the University of London in 2001. He is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled Azuchi Castle: Oda Nobunaga and the Origins of the Japanese Castle. He is also working on an annotated translation of Shōmei (Elucidation of the Craft), a secret sixteenth-century architectural manual written by Heinouchi Masanobu.

Core Members

Anton Schweizer, Ph.D.

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Anton Schweizer is a professor of art and architectural history at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. At the center of his research is the employment of artifacts in space during Japan’s late medieval and early modern periods. He works on-site planning and architectural decoration in the widest sense, issues of materiality, and depictions of works of architecture in painting. This focus is accompanied by a strong interest in issues of materiality, manufacturing technologies, and temporality as well as transcultural picture migration and export art (especially lacquer). Anton Schweizer received his Ph.D. from Heidelberg University and has taught at universities in Germany (Heidelberg), the US (NYU, Tulane), and Japan (Kyushu University). He presently works on two projects. One concerns exchanges of material and visual cultures between East Asia, Europe, and the Americas in the First Global Age (1500 to 1700). The second project is on courtesan culture and its manifestations in architecture and ukiyo-e prints during Japan’s early modern period.

Core Members

Gen Aihara


Gen Aihara is the general manager at Hiroshi Sugimoto studio. He works for Sugimoto since 1999. He traveled with Sugimoto for assisting in photographing Quatro Ragazzi, Opera House among other series.  Gen was born in Shiga prefecture where Azuchi Castle ruin is located. Received his MFA from SUNY - Purchase in 1999. Active as an artist as well. 


Éliane Roux, Ph.D.    Lead researcher
Tomoko Ota, Ph.D.

Éliane Roux is a researcher in art history and archives and teaches at the University of Genoa, Italy. She specializes in the pre-modern cultural and art history of the Vatican, Italy, and Europe, particularly of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Her study interests include the reception of the Far East in Europe and the contribution of the networks of humanists, antiquaries, and religious communities to the spread of knowledge on the “New World.” Her scholarly research is rooted in locating and analyzing primary sources in European languages. She received her doctorate from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne University) and the University of Rome III in 2013 and holds a diploma in archive sciences from the Vatican School of Paleography, Diplomatics and Archive sciences from 2005 as well as a Master from the University of Montreal from 2004. She is currently working on a book from her Ph.D. thesis, Cardinal Giacomo Serra (1572 ca.-1623) and his Circle, and on an article entitled Antiquities” from the “Indies”: The Circulation of Knowledge on Objects from the “New World” in the European Antiquary Networks (16-17th Centuries). She has been the senior researcher in Europe of the Azuchi Screens Research Network since 2018.

This program is supported by Masaji Yagi and  Makuake Crowd Funding 

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