The Chuo Library in Tokyo‘s Kita Ward has made available to the public the extensive collection of books donated by noted Japanese translator and academic Donald Keene. A special section has been created to showcase the 788 books from the Japanese literary scholar.
The book collection, with its 490 Japanese and 298 foreign books, is displayed in a 48 square meter area located on the first floor of the library. The section is for donated volumes of books, as well as books related to and written by Keene himself. The extensive and varied books features notable titles like “Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912”, “Meiji Tenno ki,” the official biography of Emperor Meiji; “Shiki Zenshu,” a collection of creative works by haiku and waka poet Masaoka Shiki; and “Tobuga Gotoku,” a novel by Ryotaro Shiba. There is also a special section featuring works by notable writers like Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima and Kobo Abe, all of whom Keene personally knew. There is a book displayed and autographed by Abe with the personal dedication “To Mr. Donald Keene, May 19, 1975. With awe and respect, Your friend, Kobo.”
The idea for this special section arose when he gave a lecture at the library in October of 2010. But it’s not just his collection on display; his personal touch and even writing process is indicated in the colored seals he put on the back of reference books he used to write his books. Even his notes and scribbles on some of the books are shown. “I wanted to do something for the people in Kita Ward. I’m grateful to see my books organized and arranged in this way,” Keene said. He has been living in the ward for around 40 years and decided to move permanently to Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. He is a foremost expert in Japanese literature and received the Order of Culture in 2008. He has already been granted Japanese citizenship as of March 2012.
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