Lafcadio Hearn in the Present Day
Wednesday, October 23 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
The Nippon Club – 145 West 57th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
Admission: $15/$10 members
The Nippon Club and The Hearn Society present a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Lafcadio Hearn’s arrival in the United States. The event features a lecture by the writer’s great-grandson and a live calligraphy performance set to music.
Lafcadio Hearn, known in Japan as Koizumi Yakumo, was born in Greece in 1850. His mother was Greek, and his father was an Irish surgeon in the British Army. Throughout his childhood, he overcame much hardship. After his parents’ divorce, he grew up in Ireland and lived in the United Kingdom, France, the U.S., and on the Caribbean island of Martinique before arriving in Japan in 1890. Exactly 150 years ago, in 1869, Hearn arrived in New York alone, as a 19-year-old Irish immigrant. After his arrival in the U.S., he worked as a journalist in Cincinnati and New Orleans. He established himself as a top-class journalist and writer.
Obtaining a teaching position in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Hearn married Koizumi Setsu. He became a Japanese citizen and took the name Koizumi Yakumo. Through his writing, he communicated the fundamental culture of Meiji-era Japan to the world through acute insights with his five senses. Exploring the spirituality of the Japanese people with an open mind, he introduced this side of Japan to the world through more than ten works, including Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, Kokoro, Kwaidan, and Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation.
He eventually taught English literature at Tokyo Imperial University and became a professor at Waseda University. In 1904, he died of a heart attack at age 54 and is interred in Tokyo.
Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Hearn’s Arrival
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Hearn’s move to the U.S., his great-grandson Bon Koizumi will give a lecture titled “Lafcadio Hearn in the Present Day” at The Nippon Club.
“In recent years, there has been an increasing re-evaluation of Hearn in Japan and in places around the world that are associated with him,” says Koizumi. “Hearn is no longer merely a target of literary research. He is becoming more relevant to the needs of contemporary society as a multi-faceted figure with an open mind. As a descendant of Hearn’s, this has great significance for me.”
After the lecture, Nanami Nanasawa will give a calligraphy performance to Kyoji Yamamoto’s guitar accompaniment.
“In the time between day and night, the times that connects this world with the other, the time when humans encounter demons, at the boundary connecting the realm of the gods, the world of Oma, the twilight hour when nothing can be seen, will be created on paper, ” says Nanasawa. The artist invites guests to witness the moment of “an Encounter between Hearn’s Spirit and Calligraphy.”
To register for this event, please email Ms. Honda at email@example.com.
About Bon Koizumi
Born in Tokyo, Bon Koizumi studied Folklore at Seijo University and graduate school and moved to Matsue in 1987. Koizumi explores cultural resources from the perspective of ghost stories and the supernatural and conducts practical research, which is used in tourism and cultural experiences. He introduces the “open mind” of Lafcadio Hearn to society in places around the world that are associated with his late great-grandfather. Along with actor Shiro Sano and musician Kyoji Yamamoto, he participates in the Lafcadio Hearn Reading Performance. In July 2017, he was a recipient of the Foreign Minister’s Commendation for contribution to the cultural exchange between Japan and Ireland. He has published works including Minzoku Gakusha—Koizumi Yakumo (Kobunsha, 1995) and Kwaidan yondaiki—Yakumo no itazura (Kodansha, 2014).
Koizumi is the director of the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum in Matsue and the honorary director of the Yaizu Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum in Shizuoka Prefecture. He is also an honorary professor of the University of Shimane Junior College.
About Nanami Nanasawa
Calligrapher and ink painting artist Nanami Nanasawa is from Toyama Prefecture. After studying calligraphy at Tokyo Gakugei University, she worked as a graphic designer and later became an ink painting artist. In addition to traditional calligraphy, she combines ink painting with calligraphy as well as to photographs to create unique art. She has held exhibitions in Japan and overseas and has produced calligraphy for products, packages, and brand logos.
She performs her critically acclaimed “Calligraphy Live Performance,” in which she draws on a large piece of paper to music, with elegance and beauty. In November 2018, she made her overseas debut with a solo exhibition in Singapore. Her collaborative work in apparel, architecture, and stage design is also attracting attention.
Since 2013, she has written the calligraphy for the titles of the Lafcadio Hearn Reading Performance. She also drew the title of a photography collection commemorating the 30th anniversary of the enthronement, as well as the 60th wedding anniversary, of the Heisei Emperor. In charge of the cover of Kyodo Weekly, the membership magazine of Kyodo News, since 2018, Nanasawa held an exhibition of Kyodo Weekly covers, featuring the four seasons, in the head office of the company in July 2019.
About Kyoji Yamamoto
Kyoji Yamamoto is a musician from Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture. He started playing the guitar when he was 15 and entered the Yamaha/Nemu Music Academy. At that time, he was hailed as a genius guitarist. While still a student, he became the lead guitarist and lead vocalist of BOWWOW. At the time of his debut, his tour with KISS and Aerosmith attracted much attention. He has constantly led the Japanese rock scene with his dynamic and powerful sound and guitar technique. He later formed the band VOWWOW, which was based in London and was active in Europe and the U.S. for around four years.
In addition to activities with the band, Yamamoto has released a guitar instrumental album, held sessions with jazz fusion musicians, and sung and played acoustically. In recent years, he has worked as a producer and has been in charge of the music for the reading performance with Shiro Sano. With wide-ranging musical experience, he plays an active role on the global music scene.