On August 29, 2018, Center for Japanese studies of FAH welcomed two guest lecturers from Japan. Professor Nobuyuki Sakamoto (Director of Takaoka Man’yō Historical Museum) and Professor Masamori Mouri (Emeritus Professor, Osaka City University) are renowned scholars in the researching field of Classical Japanese Literature. They lectured on “The charm of Man’yōshū” and “The God descending from the celestial world” respectively to nearly 70 students who are majoring in Japanese language.
Man’yōshū (Collection of Myriad Leaves, 785) is Japan’s oldest extant anthology of poetry. In his lecture on “The charm of Man’yōshū,” Professor Sakamoto introduced scholarship concerning this anthology, including its compiler, establishment, categories, and its connection with Classical Chinese Literature. From time to time, Professor Sakamoto introduced some video clips from TV programs produced for Japanese audiences, in which he himself participated as a supervisor, while explaining the contents of the ancient Japanese poems. The professional announcer’s recitation and the sceneries on the screen left a deep impression on the students who may have never experienced poetry written in ancient Japanese.
In the lecture on “The God descending from the celestial world,” Professor Mouri introduced how the god of the celestial world, Sun Goddess Amaterasu, connects to the emperors on earth, which appears in Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, 712) that is one of the oldest history books in Japan. The story depicts how the goddess sent her grandson, Niniki, to a place called Himuki (Facing the sun) on shore of Pacific Ocean. Then Niniki married a local female there and began to produce the royal lineage that have been surviving until present. Professor Mouri pointed out the source of the relevant content in the original text provided through handouts, and explained the complex text written in classical Japanese in a clear and interesting manner.
Students attended the guest lectures were from the second year and above. Many students read the handouts in advance and prepared questions in writing. Those questions were submitted to the two lecturers before the lectures began. The two professors were touched after reading the questions and did their best to respond during and after the lectures despite the limited time.
The guest lectures held by the Center for Japanese Studies contained both academic contents and a refreshing appreciation of classical literature. The good interaction between professors and students also contributed to the successful event.