December 5, 2011

JAPAN: Famed Japanologist Keene gets museum in Kashiwazaki

TOKYO,Japan / The Asahi Shimbun / Asahi Japan Watch / December 5, 2011

By Koji Shimizu / Staff Writer
Donald Keene reads a book in the study of his home in New York. 
The museum in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, will feature 
a faithful replica of his study. (Bourborn Corp.)

KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata Prefecture--Along with permanently moving to Japan, renowned Japanese literature researcher Donald Keene has brought the living room and study of his New York home with him, donating it to a museum here as the centerpiece of an exhibit on his work.

Keene, 89, visited Kashiwazaki on Dec. 3 to attend a ceremony to donate his vast collection of books and furniture, among other items, to the museum.

The 360-square-meter museum, the brainchild of Bourbon Corp., a leading confectionery based in Kashiwazaki, is scheduled to open in autumn 2013.

It will be housed on the second floor of the company's training center.

The museum will display Keene's donation of about 1,700 books, 300 records and CDs, and 100 pieces of furniture, apart from the living room and study, his base for more than 30 years to bring his study of Japanese literary works to the world.

Keene has been living in Tokyo's Kita Ward since September. He decided to acquire Japanese nationality and live in Japan for the rest of his life after the country was hit hard by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

In the ceremony on Dec. 3, Keene said he believes the devastated Tohoku region will experience a miracle similar to the one that occurred in Tokyo, which was rebuilt into one of the world's largest cities after it was firebombed into charred rubble during World War II.

Keene, a professor emeritus at Columbia University in New York, is known for introducing Japanese literature to the world over the past six decades.

Ties between the Japanologist and Kashiwazaki go back to 2007, when Keene proposed an endeavor to revive an ancient puppet play accompanied by the samisen set in the city.

Local artists gave the puppet play performance in June 2009, for the first time in 300 years.

Bourbon said that Keene's proposal gave hope to the city's residents, who were still reeling from the devastating Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake in 2007.

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