Consulate-General of Japan in Houston


About Us
Consul General's News Letter From Houston

Consul-General's Remarks at the Dinner
in honor of the visit of Dr. Shimatani,
Vice Executive Director of the Tokyo National Museum
to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


I like to thank you, Madam Gwendolyn Goffe, Interim Director, Madam Cornelia Long, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, distinguished board members and the distinguished guests who have played a major role in helping this Museum make possible the Arts of Japan Gallery. I like to thank all of you to give us this commemorative opportunity. 

I also like to thank and welcome Dr. Hiroyuki Shimatani and his team from the Tokyo National Museum.  I have a privilege to see the attractive landscape where the people from the two most renowned museums are gathering together.

We are sometimes told that it is not easy to understand what the Japanese are, what the adjective “Japanese” implies.  This is not a surprise as by and large the same may be true of other nations.  But what we often witness in the world of art is a bit frustrating, for what is popular in the established antique market tends to be regarded as the representative artistic object of Japan.  Thus, the “Japanese” arts are more likely to attract the attention of a closed circle of maniacs, not of the majority of the ordinary people abroad.

Dear Colleagues,

The art has the power to promote the mutual understanding, this is the value of cultural exchange between nations.  The American art or the American’s approach towards the art will stimulate and let us think what the essence of the American is.  The Japanese art or the Japanese approach towards the art should equally stimulate and inspire you to imagine what the Japanese are.  The well-accepted art is not talking about the apparent reality but it speaks of the ideals or very basic values pursued by such community.

Through the cultural exchange with the people abroad, I like to sell the ideals or very basic values of the Japanese which have survived years and years.  Sincerity, accuracy, tolerance and curiosity.  Are we Japanese actually and always sincere or tolerant?  Obviously, the answer is no, but I am not talking about the apparent reality of Japan but its ideals or very basic values, which we pursue and we cherish.

It is a great fortune to have such reassuring Houstonians like you and your colleagues, and to have such prestigious partners as Dr. Shimatani and his colleagues in the same room today. Dr. Shimatani and the precious objects of his Tokyo National Museum will surely tell us how sincere, accurate and tolerant the Japanese people want to be, and how curious we actually are.  You and your renowned Museum of Fine Arts Houston, particularly through the Arts of Japan Gallery, will help us, encourage us to show the ideals and basic values of the Japanese. 

Thanks to you, Gwen Goffe, and to Valerie Greiner and Amy Purvis, I had a chance this week to have a look to your magnificent museum, Asian Galleries and a nice space for the Arts of Japan Gallery where we now are.

I am sure that now we have the right place to demonstrate and appeal to the Houstonians and tens of thousands of visitors to the Museum, including a lot of boys and girls, which is very important, the sincerity, accuracy, tolerance and curiosity of the Japanese people.  That is worth trying, I hope it will be rewarded much.

I wish you and both the museums good luck and success. I hope this gathering today will lead us to a further height of collaboration, closer understanding and a deepened personal connection, which is after all the very engine of any project which we like to do.

I will now pass the floor to Christine Starkman.  Thank you.