The Asiatic Society 
of Japan


Next Lecture: 2018.12.03 (details below)

how to develop own website


Monday, December 3, 2018 18:30
Stephen D. Bloom , Chief Executive Officer of the Portland Japanese Garden 
"Portland Japanese Garden: American Interpretation of a Japanese Artform" 
Shibuya Kyōiku Gakuen 1-21-18 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0002

Mr. Stephen Bloom’s talk will explore the past, present, and future of the Portland Japanese Garden and how it is leading a global dialog about the Japanese Garden as a platform for spreading the ideals of peace and mutual understanding between peoples by sharing Japan’s greatest gifts with the world; its culture, art, and unique connection to nature. Under Steve Bloom’s leadership, the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon, U.S.A., has seen strong institutional growth. He oversaw the completion of a US$37 million expansion of the Garden and its facilities designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma; created a curatorial department; expanded and improved programs in culture, art, and education; established an International Japanese Garden Training Center; formed an International Advisory Board; and dramatically increased national and international visibility and recognition for the Garden. In 2015, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it was awarding the Foreign Minister’s Commendations in Honor of the 70th anniversary of the End of World War II. The award was given to individuals and groups with outstanding achievements in the promotion of friendship between Japan and the United States. Bloom was awarded this prestigious recognition along with only 27 other individuals. Bloom was a 2008-09 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in Japan, sponsored by Hitachi. He concurrently served as Visiting Scholar at Tokyo University of Agriculture. Following his fellowship in Japan, Bloom led an effort to create the North American Japanese Garden Association (NAJGA) of which he served as Founding Board President. Bloom is the recent recipient of the “2017 Portland Award” recognizing his overall contribution to the promotion of Portland’s visitor industry. This year, on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary, the Garden Society of Japan bestowed Honorary Membership to Bloom in recognition of outstanding achievements in the promotion of Japanese Gardens worldwide.

Monday, Februrary 4, 2019 18:30
Edward Suzuki , Prizewinning Architect and Gentleman Scientist 
"GOoD Design Philosophy—Kami no dezain tetsugaku" / 神のデザイン哲学
Josai University, Tokyo Kioicho Campus, Building 1, B1 Hall, 3-26 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094

RSVP by January 31, 2018 to The Asiatic Society of Japan
Telephone/Fax: +81-(0)3-3795-2371

Renowned architect Edward Suzuki coined the term “GOoD Design” from his belief that the universe, both visible and invisible, is God’s greatest work of architecture, he considers the vast web of interrelationships that exists between the material world, our physical bodies, and our spiritual selves in essays as varied in their subject matter as the molecular structure of water, the mystical properties of bamboo, the Fibonacci sequence, and the golden ratio. Mr. Suzuki was born of German and Japanese descent in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. He earned his B.Arch. from the University of Notre Dame and his MArch in urban design from Harvard University. Suzuki worked alongside master architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller while on a Fulbright scholarship. Perhaps that’s one reason he’s a self-proclaimed student of life, regularly contemplating the structure of the atom, the environment, philosophy and the metaphysical. Edward’s bold yet organic architectural designs draw from influences both East and West, and have taken shape as far away as Kenya and China. Upon graduation from Harvard, Suzuki worked for Kenzo Tange & URTEC before establishing his own practice, Edward Suzuki Associates, in Tokyo in 1977. Suzuki’s work has brought him many accolades at home and abroad. Double Rainbow, a private residence in Karuizawa, Japan, received the 2015 International Architecture Award administered by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. He is a three-time recipient of the same institution’s Green Good Design Award, most recently for his design of the International School of Asia, Karuizawa. EDDI’s House, a prefabricated system built in collaboration with Daiwa House, has received multiple prizes. In 2017 Suzuki’s proprietary model for predicting atomic and molecular structures won the Special Genius Award at the 31st World Genius Convention in Tokyo. Among his published papers is “Atommetrics: Another View of Atomic Structure Based on Electron Orbital Geometry,” which appeared in the international science periodical FORMA (2002, 2007). He is the author of the 2013 collection of essays Kami no dezain tetsugaku, which was revised and updated in the English language edition GOoD Design Philosophy in 2017.

Extraordinary General Meeting
Monday, December 10, 2018 @18:30
Josai University, Tokyo Kioicho Campus, Building #3, 5F, 2-3-20 Hirakawacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0093

Agenda. The items to be reported or proposed include the following:
• Report by Interim Council as to the status of the ASJ and related matters.
• Proposal of establishment of General Incorporated Association.

(For summary and details, please see the information kit circulated to the members, and any supplemental information that may be provided by the Interim Council separately from this notice.)

Annual General Meeting
Monday, January 28, 2019 @18:30
Josai University, Tokyo Kioicho Campus, Building #3, 5F, 2-3-20 Hirakawacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0093

Agenda. The items to be reported or proposed include the following:
• Report of Interim Council and Annual Statement of Accounts.
• Proposal of dissolution of the existing ASJ

(For summary and details, please see the information kit circulated to the members, and any supplemental information that may be provided by the Interim Council separately from this notice.)

Membership Renewal
May we remind Members who have not yet renewed their Asiatic Society of Japan membership for this year to do so please by remitting the subscription amount (Regular Membership: ¥11,000) to one of ASJ's account as follows:

• Postal transfer to Japan Postal Account No. 00120-0-167991
• Bank transfer to MUFG Bank [三菱UFJ銀行], Aoyama-dori Branch, Ordinary Account No. 1048353
• Payment by U.S. dollar cheque is also acceptable


Doreen Simmons (1932-2018)

Here, ASJ members share memories of Doreen Simmons (1932-2018), whom we lost on 23 April. She had served on the Society’s Council since 1999. Doreen’s two contributions to the Transactions were ‘From Sumo to Cyberspace’ in Series 4, Vol. 16, 2001, 21-37, and ‘A Decathlete’ in Series 4, Vol. 20, 2006, supplement, Life and Learning, 105-110. Her contributions to ASJ and to our hearts are both numerous and enduring. 

News from Tokyo that Doreen Simmons will no longer be with us came here in my Thai retreat as a thunderstorm, not uncommon during this period in the tropics but nevertheless devastating… I will always cherish the memory of Doreen, not only as an indefatigable and discreet worker for our Society but even more, at a personal level, as an inspiration for one of my beloved daughters who goes by her first name also! May we have younger members inspired by Doreen Simmons’s devotion to pure scholarship and the practical and organizational needs of our Society!

George Sioris

I did not know Doreen Simmons when she was young. With most people, this would be a source of regret, but not with Doreen who was always in her prime. Although her body aged, in her head, she remained about forty. She lived resolutely in the present, always working out how she would do her three or four jobs along with a bewildering set of activities that would be too much for someone fifty years younger. In her short biography accompanying her piece in the Transactions supplement Life and Learning, she is listed as a freelance writer and editor, actress, recording artist, folksinger, novelty percussionist, and professional sumo commentator. ‘My lack of specialization is not a matter of regret’, she wrote there, ‘Not a word-beater in any field, I can, in ten fields, turn in an above-average performance.’  

She was uncompromisingly independent (the worst mistake you could make with her was trying to help her) and she wasn’t the world’s greatest diplomat. You had to look beyond all that. But if you could, you would find a kind and loyal person with an honesty and clarity of mind which went to the heart of any matter. She was a great friend and ally to me on the Council and to all the best traditions of the Society. Rest in peace Doreen. 

Dr. Robert Morton

I can add little to what has been so vividly recalled of Doreen; but I’d like to draw attention to an aspect of her personality that she has hinted at in the autobiographical sketch she contributed to this journal. The athletic imagery with which she titled this – ‘A Decathlete’ – underscores the fact that one tended to think of her as the ultimate extravert: one heard of such activities as a voyage to Antarctica, or bungee jumping; and sumo.  

I was not surprised, then, that her involvement with the Irish musical tradition took the form of the drum prominently associated with a festival in which a goat is crowned king, calling up the celebration of Dionysus out of which came the great tradition of Greek tragedy (tragos, goat). But if she aligned herself with the Dionysian, triumphal, expression of life, she was aware also of its Apollonian, reflective aspect. She writes of classical literature as a one-way conversation with people who lived millennia ago.  

After I asked about her association with our music, she confessed rather shyly that she had also recorded one of the most otherworldly of its songs, ‘She Moved Through the Fair’.   
I told Doreen I’d love to hear her rendering, she sent it to me, and I still treasure it. I know of no performance which expresses so completely the song’s haunted and haunting power. Doreen even sings it in the traditional manner, with that ornamentation of the lines which slows them down and allows them to sink in more profoundly. I like to listen to it after dark. And so I venture to suggest that, behind the façade of our active and adventurous, forthright and refusing-to-suffer-fools-gladly friend, there lurked the sensibility and the soul of an artist.  

Dr. Ciaran Murray 

I cἡδέως γὰρ ἀνέχεσθε τῶν ἀφρόνων φρόνιμοι ὄντες·
Libenter enim suffertis insipientes cum sitis ipsi sapientes.


For you gladly suffer fools, as you yourselves are wise.

2 Corinthians 11:19

Doreen would have understood the Greek original as well as the Latin rendition. She would have immediately recognized the source as well. Whatever ambivalent feelings she might have had about St. Paul, particularly given the apostle’s views on the place of women in the Church, she no doubt saw in the sometimes cranky tentmaker’s sardonic wit a kindred spirit.
It must be said that Doreen was not herself inclined to suffer fools gladly, nor did she show any great reluctance to identify them when, she felt, the occasion clearly called for it. “There is nothing worse,” she once told me rather fiercely, “than someone who thinks she is hitting the high C but isn’t even close!” 

I first met Doreen in the early 1980s, as a guest of the Association of Foreign Teachers in Japan (AFTJ). 
When for some years our meeting place was at International House, she and I would almost always walk back to the station together. It was Doreen who knew the shortcut. It was also Doreen who knew what might be called the “sociology of Roppongi”. Seeing a rather bedraggled, long-toothed Occidental male with a stunningly lovely young lady on his arm, I sighed: “Amor vincit omnia.” “No,” said Doreen, “Mercedes vincit omnia. It’s no doubt parked just round the corner.”

Doreen was known for her multiple talents. One evening a group of us went off to a jazz club in Asakusa, where, for some reason, we found ourselves talking about ancient airs. When I mentioned “Love’s Old Sweet Song,” Doreen most sweetly sang it for us, knowing all the eloquent words. 

Doreen was the only person I know with whom one could both consult about Latin and inquire about sumo. Being at best a marginal aficionado in regard to the latter, I merely cheered on those wrestlers I liked. Steadfastly refusing to have (or at least to disclose) her own favourites, Doreen was not at all helpful in encouraging me in mine. But with her insights into that Byzantine world, she would, I was sure, be a most appropriate ASJ Council member. And so, along with the encouragement of others, she belatedly joined.

My mother once remarked that one of the good things about coming to the end of a long life is that one ceases to be old. As I was going up a flight of stairs at a station somewhere in Tokyo, I found myself thinking: Well, as much as we miss Doreen, it’s good to know that she no longer has to contend with that walker of hers…And when she realizes that everyone in her new choir can hit that high C, she will know that she is in the right place. “Requiescas in pace, nostra amica Dorena.” 

Dr. Charles De Wolf

Sir Hugh Cortazzi GCMG (1924-2018)

As a member of the ASJ Board of Advisors, Sir Hugh Cortazzi GCMG (1924-2018) frequently offered insight on a range of issues. The Society is stronger for his contributions. 

In the near 150 years of the Asiatic Society of Japan from its early days in1872, the Society has been blessed by many diplomats turned scholars in their years of service.Their leadership and scholarly insight into the nature of Japanese society, its history and economy has been a bedrock for all students of Japan. Sir Hugh (1924-2018) has been an exemplar of that tradition. As a young man in school at St. Andrews where he studied modern languages, he didn’t initially seek out a career in the Foreign Service nor had he an interest in Japan. As a student in 1943 during the years of World War 2 he joined the RAF, and had the opportunity to be placed in the intensive Japanese language training program at SOAS University of London. He was initially assigned to do interrogation of Japanese POWs in India in 1945, but with war soon ended he was transferred to Singapore where his Japanese skills were applied to War Crime investigations. After graduating in 1949 from SOAS, he sought to enter the Foreign Office. However, it was only on his third try that he succeeded. This proved to be a pivotal direction in which his career was to develop. Not only in the diplomatic service but also as a businessman, academic, author and linguist.  

His Japanese skills were renown, not only in interpretation but translation, such as his translation of Crown Prince Naruhito’s The Thames and I. His first assignment in 1945 was to India to debrief Japanese prisoners of war. Even though he had lost two relatives (an uncle and cousin) in the Burma-Siam railway deadly construction debacle, he maintained an open attitude, even if critical, regarding Japanese people and cultural achievements. Over the subsequent decades he had several stints of service at the British legation in Tokyo, culminating in his appointment as ambassador 1980-84, becoming the leading expert on Japanese UK relations of his generation. During those years, his study of Japanese culture first focused on early Japanese cartography with his collection of maps now at the Sainsbury Institute. Even though he was very active in promoting trade and investment agreements between Japan and the United Kingdom, his interests in cultural and historical studies continued and involved him in the affairs of the Asiatic Society of Japan. Despite the demands of ambassador, he graciously served as ASJ President 1982-83.  

His retirement at age 60 in 1984, did not lessen his interest in Japan. He served on a variety of corporate boards to advise on trade and investment but also served as Chairman of the Japan Society of the United Kingdom 1985-95. Although in supposed retirement, his studies of Japan blossomed forth with a large number of books. Outstanding examples include Mitford’s Japan and Victorians in Japan. His edited series on Britain & Japan, Biographical Portraits, has provided scholars with valuable material on the intricate relations between the countries and has culminated with the tenth volume just recently released British Foreign Secretaries and Japan 1850-1990.  

Sir Hugh was always generous with his time and had an intense interest in the current affairs about Japan. Visiting scholars were welcomed and treated with his generous hospitality. His recurrent articles in the Japan Times reflected his broad range of interests and were sparked by his lively conversations. 

His lively, warm humanity and the depth of critical insight will be greatly missed, but his legacy for the Society will surely live on.

Dr. Erich Berendt        

Prof. Dr. Hubert Durt (1936-2018)

Lumbini may not be very well known to the Asiatic Society membership except as a mythic site of the birth place of Siddartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha. And yet one of the most highly regarded scholars of Buddhist thought is intricately linked to the realities of Lumbini as it actually is today. Lumbini in Nepal is an important pilgrimage destination where you can find monastery temples representing all major varieties of Buddhism surrounding the central park. Ask any resident monks and officials and they will acknowledge the important role that Prof. Hubert Durt (1936-2018) has played in creating an archive and library of Buddhist writing. In particular his leadership in editing the encyclopedia of Buddhist writing based on Chinese and Japanese sources called Houbougirin.

Prof. Durt was born in Uccles Belgium near Bruxelles, studied classics at the University of Louvain 1957-59 and Japanese at Kyoto and Tokyo Universities 1960-64, receiving his doctorate from Louvain in 1970. Later he took French citizenship in 1978 and received an appointment as research fellow in Ecole Francaise d’Extreme EFEO. He taught at Osaka University, Japanese Department 1980-82. With the establishment in 1996 of the International College of Advanced Buddhist Studies in Tokyo he was appointed to the graduate school and could continue his monumental work on the Buddhist encyclopedia Hougougirin.  
Prof. Durt has had a long and deep association with the Asiatic Society of Japan, publishing a number of his papers on Buddhism in the Transactions and serving as Vice-President for many years. In 2002 the ASJ held an event to celebrate its 130th anniversary in Kyoto at which he gave the keynote lecture focusing on Mt Yoshida behind Kyoto University as an icon of religious development in Japan. The occasion was honored by the presence of HIH Prince Takamado. In 2007 his research and leadership in Buddhist studies was subsequently recognized by receiving the Prince Takamado Award.    
His passing will be greatly missed: his gentle scholarly demeanor and profound interest in humanity will continue to inspire us.  

Dr. Erich Berendt