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Culture

Waseda’s Dynamic Bunch and Related Material―
2011 Donated Pieces Exhibition

Hisanori Ito
Waseda University Archives assistant

Many valuable items have been donated to Waseda University Archives every year by alumni and people connected to the university. They range from, for example, a single photograph to unified sets of materials worthy of being called a “collection”, and are truly abundant in variation. It can be further said that the donated pieces range from the Tokyo Senmon Gakko (predecessor to Waseda University) era to recent times, and the works record events of that year, covering many eras.

As an opportunity to reveal such valuable items to the wider public, Waseda University Archives hosts a “Donated Pieces Exhibition” every year. That time of year has rolled around again, and we are exhibiting some of the pieces donated last year in 2011 under the title “Waseda’s Dynamic Bunch and Related Material”. Below I will introduce the world of the “donated pieces”, centered on eye-catching materials.

[Photograph 1]Inejiro Asanuma during a speech

First I will introduce a manuscript (donated by Miyoji Harada) handwritten by Waseda graduate and politician Inejiro Asanuma (1898-1960). Born on Miyake Island, the man who made his name as a champion of the student social movement and agrarian movement, he grew to be a politician affectionately known to the people as “Numa-san” after the war. In 1960 he fell to an assassin’s knife wielded by 17 year -old Otoya Yamaguchi, and the donated manuscript titled Waseda no Yato Seishin [Waseda’s Opposition Party Spirit] was also penned in that year.

Inside Asanuma writes, “My father told me to enter the science and economics faculty or medical faculty at Keio University, but I was opposed to that. The road I took was to the free campus of Waseda University. The sight of my Waseda seniors active in the political world was calling me to Waseda.” And on top of writing vivid yet fond recollections of the student social movements after World War I, he ends with the following words.

In any case, an active spirit and critical spirit are the founding spirits of Waseda. However, times move on〔.〕University founder Shigenobu Okuma formed a cabinet, as did graduate Tanzan Ishibashi. I believe that the time for Waseda University to grasp the leadership of the era has finally come.

[Photograph 2]Inejiro Asanuma’s handwritten manuscript of Waseda no Yato Seishin [Waseda’s Opposition Party Spirit] (donated by Miyoji Harada)

Actually, he wrote this manuscript in response to a request by the donor while he was at Waseda University doing part time work at the university cooperative society. The donor relates, “He willingly contributed this precious manuscript at the request of a troubled student from the country wearing a Waseda uniform.” The item may have come from those origins, but it can be said that this shows the gentle side of Asanuma the popular politician.

Next, I will introduce the “Great Kanto Earthquake Photo Album” (donated by Minako Ito) which was left behind by a student who belonged to the Construction Department in the School of Science and Engineering at the time in 1923. As it says at the start, written in black, “This album is a collection of photos taken by myself, Oishi, and photos bought on the street to be passed down to future generations,” it is a small album with various photos of damage from the earthquake. While the photos themselves may be dreadful, what catches your eye from this material is the handwritten note at the end dated the day the quake struck (September 1).

[Photograph 3]Masatsugu Inose’s “Great Kanto Earthquake Photograph Album” (donated by Minako Ito)

[Photograph 4]September 1 note written at the end of the photograph album

That day, the writer was at her brother-in-law’s house preparing lunch when the earthquake suddenly hit.

I was cutting potatoes to be boiled when the house moved with a thud. I tried going outside but I tripped over and couldn’t walk. That’s when I felt the earthquake. I crawled and finally got out to the garden, but tiles started falling from the roof so I tried to get to the open space next to the garden, but I was knocked off my feet and couldn’t walk again. I finally made my way to the oak tree in the open space. Smoking had started to billow from neighboring houses. I thought it was a fire but I couldn’t find my voice. (*punctuation added)

Amidst continuing aftershocks, and while worrying about her sister who was out, the author first headed for her own dormitory. “I remembered what my parents had told me as a child about going into a bamboo thicket when an earthquake strikes, so I took off the shutters and lined them up, and stayed there for a while.” Before long, the sun went down and people from the neighborhood started to gather in the open space. People who ran stores kindly provided food, and she was able to confirm that her sister was safe..

To us, who have just experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake, this writing, full of tension, brings home an even higher sense of reality. I would like to add that the title of this exhibition, “Waseda’s Dynamic Bunch”, does not only indicate “famous people” like Inejiro Asanuma (or Isoo Abe, Ryutaro Nagai, or Sokichi Tsuda, who’s items are also on display), but also includes “nameless” students like this.

Other items on display at this exhibition include a commemorative championship ball from the 1942 Tokyo Big 6 baseball autumn league, a commemorative photograph of the “Final Waseda-Keio Match” (donated by Miyoko Mori) from the following year, and from an even earlier generation, a collection of materials related to Toichiro Otabe (donated by Tatsuo Otabe), a graduate of Tokyo Senmon Gakko, and later active in Ibaraki regional politics. Players who chased the white ball before going off to war and a prewar politician who is not so well known to people today. They are also part of “Waseda’s Dynamic Bunch.”

[Photograph 5] “Final Waseda-Keio Match” (1943) (donated by Miyoko Mori)

[Photograph 6]Portrait of Toichiro Otabe (donated by Tatsuo Otabe)

Also, while not under the category of “Waseda’s Dynamic Bunch”, as an odd item, there are also design plans sent in to a competition prior to the construction of the Okuma Auditorium (donated by Sadayo Yasuda). Of those, several of the winning entries, as well as some of the unlucky entries, tell us of the shape of the so-called “Phantom Okuma Auditorium”. Compared to the shape of the current Okuma Auditorium, I would be pleased if it conjured up images in your imagination of.what if this plan was selected?

[Photograph 7]From Okuma Auditorium design competition collection (winning entry) (donated by Sadayo Yasuda)

The above items are only part of the materials on display. Due to space constraints, there are many items we couldn’t exhibit. However, the donated items will be put to use outside of the exhibition for the university’s chronology and reference operations. I would like to again express my thanks to the donors, and I hope that the abundance of “Donated Pieces” can be relayed to as many people as possible through this exhibition.

Finally, Waseda University is continually collecting, maintaining, preserving and displaying materials related to Waseda University founder Shigenobu Okuma and Waseda University (management, staff and student materials etc). If you have any materials stored away at home such as scrolls, letters, photographs, albums, pocket notebooks, notebooks etc, please contact us regardless of the contents.

Waseda University Archives

http://www.waseda.jp/archives/

2011 Donated Pieces Exhibition Waseda’s Dynamic Bunch and Related Material
Dates:
June 22, 2012 (Fri) - August 5 (Sun)
Venue:
Waseda Campus Okuma Memorial Tower 10F 125th Anniversary Room
Times:
10:00 - 18:00
Closed:
Sundays (Open on July 16 (public holiday) and August 5)
Sponsor:
Waseda University Archives
Enquiries:
03-5286-1814

Hisanori Ito
Waseda University Archives assistant

Born in 1978. Started current position in April 2011 after completed his doctorate at the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University. Majors in Japanese modern history.