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Campus Now

Midsummer Issue (Jul.)


Waseda & Culture Creation & Transmission

A major mission of Waseda University is to effectively utilize our cultural resources in education and research, while also broadly displaying such resources to society.
This article discusses the meaning of creating "Waseda Culture" and transmitting this culture to the world, as well as new projects being undertaken to achieve this goal.

Center for Cultural Transmission Okuma Memorial Hall

After the death of Waseda University founder Okuma Shigenobu, Okuma Memorial Hall was built in 1927 in order to honor his achievements. The hall features what was then a revolutionary structure, with no pillars between the first floor seats and second floor seats. The design of the hall incorporated the latest scientific results regarding vision and hearing, and the hall became a model for modern architecture. The hall was designed by a team of distinguished members including Waseda University Professors Koichi Sato (design), Takeo Sato (design), Tachu Naito (structure) and Kenzaburo Kurokawa (acoustics). The hall was designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan in 2007.

Many academic conferences, symposiums and lectures have been held at the hall, and the hall has established a position as a center for the transmission of culture. The hall was also designed to enable theater performances, and it has been popular as a place for entertainment activities made possible through the cooperation of firs-rate artists and school alumni.

Then, in 2007, in order to continue the transmission of the most recent information regarding Waseda culture to both inside and outside of the university, the hall underwent major renovations and was reborn in a new form. The renovated hall features the implementation of new image facilities and IT technology, and the role of the hall continues to grow bigger as we move into the future.


The meaning of cultural promotion performed by universities

The Cultural Affairs Division was established in 2007 and plays a central role in the transmission of culture to both inside and outside of the university.
We held a discussion with the division regarding the events leading to its establishment, as well as its purpose, activities, and future plans.

Transmitting "Waseda Culture" to the World
Hoping to be a university where fans of Waseda gather

Broadly returning to society the cultural resources of our university

-Could you please tell us the background and purpose behind the establishment of the Cultural Affairs Division?

setoAt our university, there are a variety of institutions which possess a large number of cultural resources. These institutions include cultural institutions, libraries, students associations, the General Affairs Division, the Office of the President, and the Fund-Raising Section. Each of these institutions conducts their own independent cultural activities. However, it will not be possible for us to effectively transmit culture to the world unless we perform integrated promotion of culture under a common vector. Therefore, the Cultural Affairs Division was founded as part of the Waseda University Administrative Headquarters. The division was founded based on the idea of "active contribution to regional society", which is one of the concepts for the future raised by our 125th Anniversary Project. The purpose of the Cultural Affairs Division is to serve as an organizer for 3 main cultural institutions, namely, the Tsubouchi Memorial Theater Museum, the Aizu Museum and the Waseda University Archives, as well as to achieve unified transmission of cultural information from our university.

The cultural resources of our university boast rich plurality and diversity. It is the mission of the Cultural Affairs Division to conduct organization, research, preservation and exhibition of these resources from a holistic viewpoint. We also seek to create a network between the aforementioned 3 cultural institutions. Another part of our mission is to form partnerships with libraries in order to actively transmit cultural information to the world, and broadly return to society the cultural resources of our university. Furthermore, we are strengthening the publication function of Waseda and our starting projects to heighten the cultural presence of the university.

-What kind of activities are you operating in order to fulfill that mission?

setoFirstly, we plan and execute various types of cultural events. We held a variety of events in the 2008 academic year.

As a project for cultural exchange with other universities, we cooperated with Doshisha University to hold a joint exhibition entitled "Waseda and Doshisha Exhibition-The Disciples of Niijima Jo-". As part of exchange with student groups, a "Memorial Performance Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Karajan's Birth" was held by the Waseda University Orchestra. As part of exchange with the community, we held cultural exchange events to commemorate the birth of Tsubouchi Shoyo and Tsuda Sokichi, both of whom made immeasurable contributions to our university, as well as a joint event held in cooperation with Minokamo City of Gifu Prefecture which featured theatrical performances by students. Furthermore, in Honjo City of Saitama Prefecture, we held a performance of "Honjo Waseda Noh" conducted by the top performers of our time.

"Memorial Performance Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Karajan's Birth", a joint event between the Waseda University Orchestra and the Cultural Affairs Division. Held at the Okuma Memorial Hall on December 20th, 2008. Karajan received an honorary doctorate at Okuma Memorial Hall in 1979 and also conducted the Waseda University Orchestra at that time.

Secondly, there is the Waseda University Tsubouchi Shoyo Award. This award is presented every other year in alternation with Minokamo City. The purpose of the award is to honor individuals and groups who have made outstanding contributions to creative writing, as well as to other forms of culture and art. During the 1st award ceremony held in the 2007 academic year, the Grand Prize was awarded to Mr. Haruki Murakami, an alumnus of Waseda University, and the Incentive Prize to Ms. Mieko Kawakami. Ms. Kawakami also received the Akutagawa Award the following year.

The solo musical "Yakumo-The Story of Koizumi Yakumo" was performed by Waseda alumni Mr. Jun Sawaki on October 11th, 2007. The performance was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Koizumi Yakumo's death and the 125th anniversary of the founding of Waseda University. Late in his life, Koizumi Yakumo served as an instructor at Waseda University.

Thirdly, as a center for the transmission of culture, the Cultural Affairs Divisions manages and operates cultural facilities such as Okuma Memorial Hall and Ono Memorial Auditorium. Construction to renovate Okuma Memorial Hall was completed in 2007, and the hall was reborn as a center for cultural transmission including presentations on the results of student activities and presentations given by faculty on research results. Furthermore, the functionality and convenience of Ono Memorial Auditorium was increased, and the auditorium has become a facility which fits the concept of "a place for the presenting the results of cultural activities and for planning exchanges with different cultures of the world". These two cultural facilities themselves are an important cultural resource to our university. We must carefully maintain and manage these facilities while also utilizing them for the everyday creation of new "Waseda culture".

Fourthly, our division manages a system for the publication of academic research reports. As part of activities to strengthen our publishing function and transmission of information, the university bears the publication expenses for quality academic research reports. Although the system began last academic year and is still in a trial-and-error stage, it provides an opportunity for publication to members of our university, particularly to students submitting their doctoral thesis, and also contributes to raising the academic status of our university.

Hoping to attract the interest of people throughout the world

A performance of Mr. Seishin Chinen's play Jinruikan (House of Anthropology), which received the Kunio Kishida Award in 1978, was given by the Okinawan theater group "Sozo" (the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art was a joint sponsor of the event). This was the first performance of the work in Tokyo in 30 years.

-Could you talk about plans for future activities?

ToedaWe are currently constructing a database which integrates the cultural resources of our university. Collected material is being converted to digital images and a shared database between all cultural facilities is being constructed. This will enable horizontally searches to be performed across all facilities and will be useful to the research of students and researchers. In the future, we aim to construct a digital archive similar to those used by domestic and international museums, and to construct a "digital museum" that can be viewed even from outside of the university.

-Could you describe the cultural promotion that can only be performed by Waseda University?

ToedaWe want to increase the number of people who are fans and supporters of "Waseda culture", to conduct even more energetic cultural transmissions, and to give back to society. I believe that these activities are truly the cultural promotion that we are capable of performing. Also, we must not forget that we want to create contact with "Waseda culture" not just among ordinary citizens but also among students who are currently enrolled at the university. We hope that students will directly study the cultural resources of our university during lessons and will be strongly impressed during participation in cultural events. Then, we hope that these same students will become sympathizers and supporters of "Waseda culture" after their graduation. In other words, we expect a reciprocal effect for the transmission of culture.
The memory of culture is engraved and accumulated in every facet of a university. Nothing would make us happier than to share these cultural memories with visitors and to see cultural fostered in the hearts of people. For that purpose, we hope that many people will visit our events and exhibitions.

-Please discuss the form of cultural transmission which universities should pursue in the future.

setoWe want fans of "Waseda culture" to visit the cultural facilities and events of our university. Take a look at what is happening overseas. The art museum at Harvard University attracts visitors from all over the world and students conduct campus tours with guidance of cultural facilities. We also want to conduct cultural transmission that catches the interest of people throughout the world.

1st awards ceremony of the Waseda University Tsubouchi Shoyo Award. The Incentive Prize was awarded to Ms. Mieko Kawakami (right).

The keywords for achieving this goal are "digital" and "multilingual". In this way, students who graduated from our university can follow the famous saying "the world is a playhouse" (Globe Theater) which is displayed in the Tsubouchi Memorial Theater Museum. We hope that students will perform on the stage known as "the world" and will contribute to the further development of Waseda culture through the desire to visit places which they studied during their time in university. We at the Cultural Affairs Division will work even harder while keeping this vision in mind.

Mr. Naohiko Seto
Director of the Waseda University Cultural Affairs Division and Professor at the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Graduated from the Waseda University School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I. Completed his doctoral studies at the Provencal Literature Department of the Paris-Sorbonne University (Paris IV) Graduate School of Humanities. His major research themes are the interpretation and revision of poems from medieval France.

Mr. Hirokazu Toeda
Assistant Director of the Waseda University Cultural Affairs Division and Professor at the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Graduated from the Waseda University School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I. Completed his doctoral studies at the Waseda University Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences with a major in Japanese literature. His major research themes include "the mutual relationship between censorship under military occupation and literature" and "modernism literature centered on Riichi Yokomitsu".