Sannenzaka Correspondence

Editors’ Diary 10/08/2023

As I prepared for my graduate studies in the spring semester, I found myself depleting the savings I had diligently accumulated, originally intended for covering course fees and living expenses at universities like Delft University of Technology. These savings were initially set aside as marriage funds from my previous years with Ueda Saori-san. Consequently, I had to turn to my parents, Masahiko and Misako who had initially suggested the idea of pursuing graduate studies.

Having received formal offers from multiple European graduate schools and with assistance coming from various quarters, the support I received fell significantly below the typical amount required for graduate studies in Japan. However, despite this, when I shared the necessary expenses and schedule within the family, my brother Shohei at the University of Birmingham, fearing my affiliation with a Swiss international institution, deceived my parents. This led to the unexpected situation where my parents, who had initially proposed the idea of my graduate studies, refused to provide their assistance. It was an abrupt change of stance.

Faced with this dire situation, despite having already experienced extreme hardships, I confronted the possibility of further gaps in my resume and promptly took various financial measures, including temporary loans, to enroll in the program. Even after enrolling, I continued to navigate a precarious tightrope due to non-academic challenges, taking every possible step to enhance my immediate liquidity. It was truly a relief to overcome the challenges and make it through the spring semester. However, these tough circumstances persist, with ongoing hardships such as my parents being involved in criminal cases. While I receive monthly assistance from the Japan Student Services Organization’s overseas degree program, my income has still decreased by over 5 million yen annually, leaving me in a precarious financial situation akin to Federico Fellini’s landscapes.

The subject shifts entirely, yet recently, by a twist of fate, I stumbled upon a graduate program tailored for professionals in the art-world market, offered by the Institute of Art History at the University of Zurich. This discovery stirred a sense of nostalgia within me. The program is crafted for individuals in roles spanning auction houses, art dealers, financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies, as well as administrative officials and businesspersons in the realm of cultural governance. The tuition for this program stands at 28,000 Swiss Francs—an amount that remains beyond the realm of contemplation in my current circumstances. Although tailored for practitioners, the program benefits from the oversight of the directorship by the pro of the Max Planck Institute for Art History, ensuring a certain level of academic rigor. Interestingly, it appears to welcome businesspersons devoid of prior knowledge in art history.

As I look back, I recall having the privilege of delving into art history within the tuition structure of Japan’s national universities during my undergraduate studies—a period punctuated by invaluable experiences, including numerous engaging field trips. It was a serious intellectual battle set in a gallery.

The aforementioned constitutes an exceedingly empirical and objective observation concerning humanity’s millennial struggle and/or dialogue, tightly constricted and delimited by both materiality and imagery. It serves as a contemplation revolving around commodities, devoid of philosophical implications in all respects.

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