Interview: Dr. Andrew Maske, UK Art Professor
Japan Today – Dr. Andrew Maske, one of Kentucky’s premier
Japanese art and culture scholars, has a lot to say about Japan today. From an educated outsider’s point of view,
Dr. Maske’s thoughts are particularly interesting for JASK members.
professor at the University of Kentucky department of art, lived in Fukuoka,
Japan from the mid-1980s through the early 90s.
This article reflects his comments during an interview with JASK.
particularly interesting to see the changes that took place in Fukuoka, the
city I lived in,” Maske said. “Fukuoka
is known for festivals, Hakata Gion Yamagasa and Hakata Dontaku. All the money for cultural things went into
those festivals. They didn’t have
anything cultural before.”
enjoys a city art museum, a city museum, a prefectural museum, an Asian museum,
and a variety of theatres that enrich both modern and traditional culture.
having spent that year in Japan, it completely changed my view of what I wanted
to do with my life,” Maske said. “I was
very fortunate that Japan offered me something that attracted me to focus my
felt differences in the city between his first stay and the later visits, he
observed a unique coexistence of modern and traditional cultures.
been always interesting to me is the connection between modern Japan and traditional
Japan living together,” Maske said. “Temples
are not all museums; people continue to participate in Buddhism as a
religion. In summer, there are
festivals, which are not things that the government sets up to preserve;
ordinary people participate enthusiastically.
Some old things can come back; some good things can remain from the
realized, tradition plays a great role in Japan. He said experience and personal connection
are the keys to passing these good traditions along to future generations.
challenge in any culture to make young people familiar with, and have a respect
for their own tradition,” Maske said. “A
young man in high school in Fukuoka has participated in Yamagasa [festival]; he
feels the importance of the festival and the connection with the team. So it’s not just a part of Japanese culture
or historical culture, but his own culture.
I’ve seen young people who are involved in the traditional culture and
they do see value in it.”
mentioned what is important to learn in cultural exchange.
“I try to
bring the experiences I’ve had to help people understand about Japan, not only
about traditional Japan, Japan in history, or Japanese art, but how those
different aspects of Japanese culture relate to Japanese people today,” Maske
said. “I think art plays a big role in understanding
culture; you can’t understand culture without including its art.”
with Dr. Maske and others, JASK continues to plan artistic and cultural events
that help to pass along both Japanese and Kentucky traditions – traditions that
improve our individual and community lives.
Sincere thanks to Dr. Maske for granting this interview and sharing his
observations with JASK. Have ideas to
share? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.