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Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Nov.)

Waseda rediscovery

Cover photo: Yoichi Sato (Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences)

cover story

The Large Hall Okuma Hoped For

It expands by the click.

On October 21st, 1957, an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of our university's founding was held at this memorial auditorium on the Toyama Campus. The opening ceremony for the auditorium had been held just a few days earlier.

Ever since the university's founding, Waseda had dealt with the lack of a large hall by setting up huge tents on campus when big gatherings were held.

It is said that Shigenobu Okuma remarked on his desire to give an important speech in a roofed venue.

The Okuma Memorial Auditorium was completed in 1927 and was frequently used for ceremonies and cultural events. However, the number of students had increased to the extent the entrance ceremonies and graduate ceremonies were split into multiple installments during the term of Nobumoto Ohama, the 7th President of Waseda University.

In response, this large auditorium and athletic complex was built to handle gatherings of more than 10,000 people (including standing room). The venue was made possible thanks to the aspiration of President Ohama, who wanted to hold grand entrance/graduation ceremonies which would be a lasting memory for students. Completion of the venue was also supported by alumni, particularly the Tomon Athletic association, which sought to further promote sports at Waseda.

The venue feature unique audio and lighting facilities. Natural light is let in through louvered ceiling windows.

The facilities are used for physical education classes, as well as practices and games of various sports teams such as basketball and badminton. Moreover, the venue is often used to hold various concerts. It was the site of as a performance of Mahler's Symphony No.8 by the Waseda Symphony Orchestra and the Waseda University Chorus, the first such performance by an amateur organization within Japan.

At the time of its construction, the venue boasted advanced facilities that made it one of the finest university facilities. This was evidenced by how the venue hosted the table tennis tournament during the 3rd Asian Games and the fencing event during the Tokyo Olympics.