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Azuchi Screens 

Research Network

Since 2004

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The Mystery of the Lost Azuchi Screen paintings

In 1585, four Japanese youths arrived in Rome and presented Pope Gregory XIII  with a set of remarkable painted folding-screens. These screens depicted in meticulous detail the fortress-home of Oda Nobunaga, a warlord poised to become military ruler of all Japan. Coveted by Emperor Ōgimachi, the screens had been instead gifted to the Jesuit by Nobunaga and brought around the world as a demonstration of their friendship Nobunaga and the success of the Japanese mission. Gregory  XIII promised the youths that he would display the screens near his quarters, a locale that would convey to all that, “[their] gifts were to be counted as great objects.” Seven years later, however, the screens would disappear within the Vatican’s collections.


The Azuchi Screens Research Network is a group dedicated to rediscovering or learning the fate of these lost international treasures.

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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. In 2007, she participated in the Azuchi Castle Folding Screen research project conducting fieldwork in roman and Vatican archives. 

Anton Schweizer Ph.D.

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Anton Schweizer is 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. Anton Schweizer received his Ph.D. from Heidelberg University and has taught at universities in Germany, the US, and Japan.

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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. 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.

Mark K Erdmann, Ph.D.


Mark K Erdmann 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. His research focuses on castles, warrior elite residences, palaces, as well as the Jesuit mission in Japan and their impact on visual culture.

Gen Aihara


Gen Aihara is the general manager at Hiroshi Sugimoto studio. He works for Sugimoto since 1999, travels with Sugimoto on various occasions for shooting including Quatro Ragazzi, Opera house among other series.  Gen received his MFA from SUNY - Purchase in 1999. Active as an artist as well. 

News & Events

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Symposium in Azuchi

Azuchi Community Center

June 29 2019

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Symposium in Nagasaki

Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum

January 27 2019

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Dialogue on Azuchi Castle

Hiroshi Sugimoto x Yoshihiro Senda

London Gallery Shirokane

April 5 2019

Nanban 2021 Program Guide small version-

International Online Symposium 

Beyond the Southern Barbarians: Repositioning Japan in the First Global Age

Kyushu University

Feb.6 - 18 2021

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