Unforgettable Nichibunken

ZHOU Shi(Professor, School of Humanities and Law, Northeastern University / Visiting Research Scholar)
April 20, 2022

A Beautiful Place

The International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) is situated in the mountains south west of Kyoto. The Center is surrounded by mountains, which are linked to the beautiful Arashiyama. The mountain trees show their youth and vigor in a variety of hues from spring through summer and autumn to winter. The summer green and the autumn red are especially splendid. I get tipsy on the beauty of the place whenever I take a walk to get away from work. I can hear the sounds of cicadas, and the chirping of many different birds.

My Spacious and Light Study

There has really been no better time for me and my research than during my stay here at Nichibunken. I have a study to myself, which is both spacious and light. And there are few visitors, so I have been able to get down to research in peace. I immerse myself in this environment every day, which means that I spend my time happy and fulfilled.

The Handy Library

I want to say something about the library and the service it offers. There is an abundance of books in the Nichibunken library; the size of the collection almost defies belief. I have no choice but to set about my research with diligence and due modesty. Nichibunken staff are especially caring and considerate. From notifications about meetings to the prevention and control of the spread of the virus and applications for the purchase of books, the staff are all friendly and polite towards me and my fellow foreign researchers. They make me pause and reflect on the quality of the Japanese people.

The Deep Knowledge of my Counterpart

Here, I am able to contact my counterpart, read his publications, report back with my own thoughts, and seek advice on academic issues. His elegance and modesty are persuasive. I have been greatly blessed: from the outcomes of his research to the goodness of his character.

I have been greatly moved, too, by the contacts I have made with other scholars. Indeed, it is very much as the poet Liu Yuxi would have it:

But scholars at their ease within,

For all but Ignorance enters in

(From “The Scholar’s Humble Dwelling” translated by James Black.)

My one regret is that the Corona virus limited my ability to engage with other scholars.

A Pleasant Living Environment

Nichibunken House is a pleasant and convenient place to live. It is five minutes from my study; there are no traffic jams, and so precious time is wasted. The facilities from the expansive living space and the modern, intelligent toilet to the smart gas warning system are as good as anywhere in the modern world. I am impressed with the high level technology on display.