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Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

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Pohadky Japonskych Deti / Joe Hloucha

Pohadky Japonskych Deti / Joe Hloucha

Published in Prague in 1926, this is a book of Japanese children’s tales, translated into Czech. Along with the tales, about half the book contains the author’s observations of the customs and life of children in Japan. The author, Josef Hloucha (1881-1957), has been called “the greatest Czech collector of Japanese art” and the book is illustrated with over 50 reproductions of photographs and woodcuts from his collection. The binding was designed to mimic the Japanese fukurotoji binding style, which Hloucha was very familiar with–over 600 examples of Japanese books dating from Edo to Taishō periods that he collected now reside at the National Gallery in Prague.¹

This is the only copy of Pohádky Japonských Dě available at a library in North America–how did it come to be here? It is part of a gift to the college from John W. Dower (AC class of 1959) along with his papers. As described in the finding aid for the Dower Papers, Dower is a noted American scholar on the history of Japan, who has won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, among other honors. His papers are:

chiefly a collection of primary and secondary research materials compiled by John W. Dower in the course of several decades of teaching, research, writing and publication on the history of Japan, particularly with regard to World War II and its aftermath, popular media and racial representation. It includes articles, archival source material, correspondence, photographs, research notes, and draft manuscripts for several of Professor Dower’s publications. … Together with the papers, Professor Dower donated a large collection of books and videos on Japanese history, culture, and cinema. These will be catalogued and added to the main collection of the Amherst College Library or to Archives and Special Collections. In addition, his gift also included 37 boxes of books and files comprising the bulk of the research library for a program and website at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2002-2014) called “Visualizing Cultures,” focusing on Japan and China in the modern world.²

The majority of these books are being added to the circulating collection of Frost Library. At the present time, over 300 have been added, and fewer than 20 have been placed in Archives and Special Collections due to age, scarcity, or fragility. Follow this link to see all the Dower gift books which have been cataloged so far. My heartfelt thanks go to Sharon Domier, the East Asian Studies Librarian, for all her excellent work on this collection.

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¹Honcoopová, Helena, “Joe Hloucha – A Short Biography,” in Japanese Illustrated Books and Manuscripts from the National Gallery in Prague: a Descriptive Catalogue (Zbraslav : National Gallery, 1998), 12-14.

²Finding aid for the John W. Dower (AC 1959) Papers, 1850-2010 (Bulk: 1941-2010) http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/amherst/ma288.html

 

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[Note: since this will be my last post on The Consecrated Eminence, I feel no need to apologize for opening with such a horrible pun.]

The Howard B. Hamilton Japanese Theater Papers will be an extraordinary resource for the study of both Japanese culture and theater performance. It documents the frankly amazing avocational activity of an American medical researcher in post-World War II Japan who, over the course of 30 years, went on to become one of the leading performers on the noh stage – quite unusual for any non-Japanese.

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Howard B. Hamilton, MD (1918-2007)

Hamilton’s papers, consisting chiefly of photographic images, programs, albums, film, video, and printed matter, were acquired as a gift five years ago and are now being arranged, described and prepared for research use. Work on the collection has been challenging and time-consuming, since none of us here professes any expert knowledge in Japanese noh theater. (Archival processing always has an educational element.)

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In a previous post I wrote about Otis Cary (AC 1943), “Amherst’s Man in Japan,” who worked with Japanese POWs after World War II and went on to represent Amherst College at its sister institution, Doshisha University, for several decades. I’ve recently had an opportunity to revisit the incredibly rich and vast unprocessed collection of Cary Family Papers to discovered another story from the war, this time featuring Cary’s father, Frank Cary (AC 1911).

Frank Cary as an Amherst senior, 1911

Frank Cary as an Amherst senior, 1911. An all-season athlete, his nickname was “Jumbo.”

Santo Tomas Internment Camp, 1945. Shanties were built in the courtyard to relieve overcrowding. National Archives, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer [111-SC-202141]

Like his father before him, Frank Cary was an ordained Congregational minister (Oberlin, 1916) who served as a missionary in Japan. From 1916 until 1941, he was involved in school and church work in Japan until the threat of war made it necessary for Americans to leave the country. Cary went to Davao, in the Philippines. When the Pacific war broke out in December 1941, the Japanese took control of the Philippines. Cary  became a prisoner, interned first at Davao; then in December 1943 he was moved to the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila. (This was on the campus of the present-day University of Santo Tomas.) (more…)

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Last week, Doshisha University President Koji Murata and Amherst College President Biddy Martin met to formally extend the already friendly relationship between the two schools that dates back to 1875.  (See photos of the signing ceremony.)  This recent event prompted me to look back at the origins of our relationship with Doshisha, and consequently at the founder of the University, Joseph Hardy Neesima.

Joseph Hardy Neesima

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Otis Cary, 1989. Source: Otis Cary and His Broad Vision, 1921-2006

During World War II, whenever fellow Americans asked Otis Cary (AC 1943) where he came from, he felt pained to have to answer “Massachusetts.”  It was a half-truth.  Though the product of Deerfield Academy and Amherst College (the latter having also educated his father and grandfather before him), Otis Cary was born and raised in Japan.  He always considered it his home.  His family’s roots there, in fact, reach back to his grandfather Otis Cary (AC 1872), who arrived as a Christian missionary in 1878, a mere 24 years after the opening of that long-secluded country to foreigners.  The younger Cary thus developed absolute fluency in Japanese — not just linguistic, but cultural.  When he died in 2006, having served as a professor and Director of Amherst House at Doshisha University for 45 years (Amherst’s sister institution in Kyoto), he was widely considered one of the foremost American authorities on Japanese culture.

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Between July 19th and September 6th, 1936 an adventurous art collector named Lilla S. Perry traveled to Japan and kept a diary about her trip. At some later date she typed up portions of her diary and correspondence, entitled it “A Treasure Hunt in Japan, 1936” and included many photos and pamphlets. She may have intended to eventually publish her story, or perhaps only share it with family and friends, but the unpublished typescript is now in the collection here at Amherst College. It was donated to the college in 2002 by William Green¹, a fellow art collector who had been acquainted with Mrs. Perry’s son, E. Caswell Perry.

Lilla Perry was in her mid-50s at the time of her trip, lived in southern California and had become widowed a few years earlier. She was fascinated by the art form of Japanese woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e. Her son described her 1936 journey as a “print pilgrimage…visiting dealers and collectors and some museums, and finding many worthwhile prints, both old and new.”²

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