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Commemorative exhibition for donated collection related to Jirohachi Satsuma
Baron Satsuma Has Arrived!

Megumi Shirahama
Waseda University Library, Department of Collection Management (Special Collection Office)

"Baron Satsuma" is a nickname for Jirohachi Satsuma (1901-1976), a Japanese man who was resplendently active in French social circles before WWII. Jirohachi invested an enormous amount of funds and passion into a variety of international cultural projects.

Jirohachi was born as the grandson of Jihee Satsuma, who had amassed a fortune as a cotton trader during his lifetime. Jirohachi traveled to Europe early in his life and began living in Paris from around 1923. He visited Japan many times while residing overseas, staying in Paris during WWII and returning to Japan permanently in 1951. During the approximately 30 years that he spent in Paris, Jirohachi interacted with Ravel, Tsuguharu Fujita and numerous cultural figures who conducted creative activities in Paris. He sometimes provided economic support for such activities and completed a great number of grand projects such as founding the Maison du Japon [Japan House], which is still active even today. Also, Jirohachi authored literary works such as poems, novels and essays which were based upon his rich experiences. The nicknames "Baron Satsuma" and "the Rockefeller of Japan" reflected his daring and legendary way of life.

Recently, a collection related to Jirohachi was donated to the Waseda University Library by his wife Toshiko Satsuma, who married Jirohachi in 1956. After Jirohachi was suffered a stroke in 1959, the couple moved to Toshiko's hometown in Tokushima, where Jirohachi received treatment. After he recovered, the couple continued to lead a calm life in Tokushima. For about 20 years, Toshiko lived with and supported Jirohachi.

Jirohachi and Toshiko

The collection contains a wide variety of materials such as photographs, literary works, handwritten drafts, letters and cherished possessions. In recent years, written works related to Jirohachi have been published and his life is once again attracting attention. The donated collection offers a definitive look at the true life and character of Jirohachi. The collection is also extremely important in terms of considering the issue of relations with Europe following WWII. We are currently working intently to organize the collection in order to facilitate further surveys and research in a variety of fields. A little more time will be required until the collection is opened to the public.

Therefore, we are holding the exhibition "Baron Satsuma Has Arrived!" in order to commemorate the donation of the collection.

The exhibition focuses representative materials that have been introduced in past exhibitions or literary works. The exhibition is structured to trace Jirohachi's life, from materials related to the Satsuma household where he was born to literary works related to him published after his death. In particular, visitors can have a comprehensive look at cultural projects that Jirohachi was involved in, both in Japan and overseas. For example there is material related to the founding of Maison du Japon, which he had been proud of through life, a performance in Japan by the French pianist Henri Gil-Marchex, performances of the Story of Shuzenji in Paris, and lectures conducted in Prague. Of course, these activities were backed by the financial power of the Satsuma family, including the understanding and support of Jirohachi's parents. However, the exhibition clearly shows that the true essence of such grand projects was born from the action and broad social network of Jirohachi himself. An interesting facet of the exhibition is material related to Chiyo Satsuma (1907-1949). Chiyo, the eldest daughter of Count Hideo Yamada, married Jirohachi in 1926. After being married, the two moved to France and debuted in Paris social circles. Chiyo appeared as a model in numerous fashion magazines and was also active as a painter. The exhibition features beautiful photographs of Chiyo posing, as well as paintings, letters and posthumous poems. Other items conveying the couple's stylish life in Paris include photographs of Jirohachi and Chiyo, daily goods which were used by the couple and bear the initials "JS" and "TS," and personalized stationery.

Written works and cherished possessions

Photographs (clockwise from upper left): Staff from a performance of the Story of Shuzenji, Jirohachi Satsuma, Chiyo Satsuma, Jirohachi and Chiyo (at home in France), exterior of Maison du Japon

Numerous awards recognizing the achievements of Jirohachi

The exhibition will be held until May 24th. Please take this opportunity to learn about the stimulating life of Baron Satsuma.

Commemorative exhibition for donated collection related to Jirohachi

Baron Satsuma Has Arrived!

March 23rd (Fri.), 2012 to May 24th (Thurs.), 2012
Waseda University Center for Scholarly Information, 2F Exhibition Room
10:00am to 6:00pm (closed on Sundays and holidays)
Held By:
Waseda University Library

Poster for "Commemorative exhibition for donated collection related to Jirohachi Satsuma: Baron Satsuma Has Arrived!"

Megumi Shirahama
Waseda University Library, Department of Collection Management (Special Collection Office)

Full-time contract employee at Waseda University Library. Born and raised in Kanagawa Prefecture. In 2007, graduated from the Waseda University School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I. In 2009, completed the Master's Program at the Waseda University Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Area of expertise is research in modern Japanese literature, with a focus on the Meiji Period.