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Approaching 120 Years since the Founding of the Literature Department
- History and Tradition Continuing Unbroken from Shoyo -

Hisao Takamatsu
Professor of Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University

This year will be the 120th anniversary of the establishment of the Literature Department at the Tokyo Technical School, the forerunner of Waseda University. The Literature Department became the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and after the war it went through its eras in the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I and School of Letters, Arts and Sciences II. In 2007 it was recreated into two schools, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Culture, Media and Society. This year is also the year of completion, the first year that students who joined the two new schools will graduate. In our Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, which also includes the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, we are planning a number of events to commemorate this. These events will be held in succession during the first half of the fall semester.

Mascot Character Selection - Dr. Shoyo Is Still with Us

First as we approached the 120th anniversary, we took applications for a mascot character at the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences. We received a total of about around ten suggestions. While we can’t say the number of applications was high, we could choose between attractive characters of uniform excellence, and in the end, the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences characters that were selected by popular vote of all the students and faculty at the Faculty of Letters, Arts, and Science were the two characters “Dr. Shoho” (pictured below right) and “Bunkoara” (picture below left). Both characters were created by current students of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The new mascot character Dr. Shoho is obviously modeled on Shoyo Tsubouchi, and he is combined with an owl, a symbol of wisdom. I was in a position to review all of the characters submitted to be a mascot character, and there were actually multiple characters other than Dr. Shoho among the ten submitted which were modeled on Shoyo Tsubouchi. In any case the existence of Shoyo Tsubouchi was a large one during the founding of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences at Waseda. — The recognition of this comes naturally to a person like me who has remained at Waseda for, actually, more than 25 years since being a student, but I was a little surprised to perceive that this image was firmly fixed in the minds of the current students as well.

Shoyo’s 150th birthday was last year, and his seminal work on literature theory, Shosetsu Shinzui, has been republished by the Iwanami paperback library. It has been published as an extremely easy to read text thanks to the explanations and notes of Prof. Kazushige Munakata of Waseda, so I would like to take the opportunity of the appearance of Dr. Shoho to encourage our students to read the book.

Memorial Exhibition - Including Scores of Unreleased Materials

The Literature Department at Waseda is a place that was in a way created by Shoyo and the Shoyo children, and to commemorate its 120th anniversary, it was decided to hold a special exhibition to look back at that history entitled “Intersecting Wisdom - Cultural Imagination.” It will be held in the 1st Floor Special Exhibition Gallery of the Aizu Museum from Monday, a holiday, October 11th to Thursday October 28th. The exhibit will feature materials connected to the school’s 120 year history. The exhibition will be made up of materials rigorously selected from among those held at sites all around Waseda University, and materials displayed for the first time to the general public will probably be amongst them.

Just before the start of summer vacation last year when someone from the office was doing major organizing in preparation for the construction of the new school building, a bundle of documents was unearthed from a warehouse. I’m not sure of how they ended up there, but I thought the bundle, which was probably important departmental documents kept by successive deans, became inadvertently buried in a corner of a warehouse. Its contents are varied including calligraphy, letters, photographs, and drawings, and the number of items that can, at a glance, be recognized as valuable is not few.

If I had to point out one thing I saw that I thought was interesting, I’d say it was a letter sent by Yaso Saijo to the then dean of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Takamatsu Yoshie, on October 24th, 1939. Yaso Saijo is typically known for being a poet and Ryukoka lyricist, but he was also a professor of French literature at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The receiver of the letter, Yoshie, had studied in France after graduating from the department and after returning to Japan founded the Department of French, and he was also the former teacher of Yaso Saijo. It seems that Yaso Saijo had at this time been taking a long break from classes and that there had been an inquiry about this from the dean. In response, he wrote his justification at length saying, “Recently I’ve had two teeth about to fall out and am feeling terrible, so I cannot hold classes,” and he asked “that's why” please let me have another two weeks off. The image on the right is a close up of “that's why.” It is very interesting as we can see the personality of the person named Yaso Saijo as well as his personal relationship with his former teacher and dean Yoshie.

In the newly discovered documents, there is actually one thought to have a high level of historical value. It is a letter from an important person in the history of modern Japanese theater during an event of epoch proportions even in that person’s lifetime expressing that person’s feelings to then university president Sanae Takata. This will be in a separate document report at another time, so I’ll refrain from going into details here, but the materials had an unsigned cover letter on them to the effect that they were donated to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences by the surviving family of Yaichi Aizu. And, a preface that verifies the writing as that of Seiji Tanizaki was written by Toshiki Tsujimura.

Seiji Tanizaki was the younger brother of Junichiro Tanizaki and a scholar of English. He became dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in 1946 and worked as dean for 14 years until 1960. Tsujimura was a scholar of Japanese and worked as dean of the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I for over a year starting in May 1973. In my undergraduate years, I was taught by this Professor Tsujimura. Accordingly, the one line recorded by Professor Tsujimura on this nearly 100 year old historical document brought out feelings close to me personally. If the alumni of my generation and before see this exhibition, they will probably find several exhibits that give them a similar impression. I’d also strongly like for the current students to come into contact with the exhibits as a part of history directly connected to them today. It’s not that I want to tell them to praise the School of Humanities and Social Sciences blindly. I just want them to gaze with interest at the hidden maneuverings of the various people of the department at which they study.

At the exhibition documents including those related to Hajime Onishi (1864-1900), who built the foundation of the Department of Philosophy but passed away young, and the complete unedited documents of Tokyo Technical School alumnus writer and early socialism activist Naoe Kinoshita (1869-1937) will be displayed. Lectures to tie-up the exhibition and gallery talks are also planned.

October 11th Memorial Ceremony - Challenging Established Borders, Envisaging Exceeding Genre

On October 11th, the day the exhibit starts, the “120 Year Anniversary of Establishment Commemorative Ceremony” will be held at the Okuma Auditorium. The ceremony will be organized around two symposiums. The morning topic will be entitled “What is ‘East Asia’: Searching for Regional Formation for Integration,” and specialists in history and social sciences will debate from the perspective of the revitalization of the idea of “East Asia” itself which tends to be though of as a self-event framework. The afternoon topic is “Tradition and the Modern Day in Theater and Dance,” and for it, people active on the front lines of the modern Japanese theater scene have been invited, so conversation that exceeds the borders of traditional theater and modern theater will unfold. Some also think that searching for the way the modern world should be, defying categorization and challenging borders, has been the consistent approach of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences since its establishment, and it is also the reason for “Intersecting Wisdom - Cultural Imagination,” the theme of the memorial exhibition.

This web site can be checked at any time for information on the memorial ceremony or events for the 120th Anniversary. We’re looking forward to seeing many interested people there.

120th Anniversary of Establishment Commemorative Events
“Future under Construction”

- 120 Year Anniversary of Establishment Commemorative Ceremony -
Date: October 11, 2010 (Monday)

◆Symposium ※Preliminary application through the website is required.
Venue: Okuma Auditorium
10:15~12:30 (Doors open at 9:45)
“What is ‘East Asia’: Searching for Regional Formation for Integration”
Dr. Reinhard Zöllner, professor of Universität Bonn, Jang In Sung, professor of Seoul National University and others

13:45~16:00 (Doors open at 13:15)
“Tradition and the Modern Day in Theater and Dance”
Tadashi Suzuki (producer), Mr. Mansaku Nomura, Jusuke Hanayagi (traditional Japanese dancer) and others

◆120 Year Anniversary of Establishment Commemorative Exhibition ※No reservations necessary
"Intersecting Wisdom - Cultural Imagination"
Venue: Aizu Museum
Date: October 11 (Monday, Holiday) - October 28 (Thursday)
Lecture: October 16 (Saturday), October 23 (Saturday)
Closed: October 21 (Thursday), October 24 (Sunday)
*Details may change due to circumstances.

◆Detailed information
URL: http://www.waseda.jp/bun/120/index.html

Hisao Takamatsu / Waseda University Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences Professor

Hisao Takamatsu was born in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture in 1966. He is a professor at the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences at Waseda University (School of Humanities and Social Sciences - Japanese Language and Literature course). He left the Waseda University Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences and has a PhD in literature from Waseda University. His specialty is ancient Japanese literature. He has authored Kodai Waka Manyōshū Nyūmon (Ancient Waka - An Introduction to the Manyoshu) from Transart and Jōdai Waka Shi no Kenkyū (Ancient Waka History Studies) from Shintensha Publishing. He has also edited Nihon Kodai Bungaku to Hakukyoi - Ōchō Bungaku no Seisei to Higashi Ajia Bunka Kōryū (Ancient Japanese Literature and Bai Juyi - Genesis of Court Literature and East Asian Cultural Exchange) a jointly-edit book from Bensey Publishing along with others works.