Annual Newsletter of the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University
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English News  No.7 , December 1999
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From the Director
Foreign Visiting Fellowship Program
Our Current Staff
Research Funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
Guest Lectures from Abroad
Visitors from Abroad
Awards for SRC Staff
Publications (1998-1999)
The Library
Essays by Foreign Fellows
Cynthia H. Whittaker
Isabel Tirado
Kuili Liu
John P. LeDonne

Sapporo and After

John P. LeDonne
(Harvard University, USA, Foreign Visiting Fellow, SRC, 1992-93)

When I went to Japan in l992, I told myself I was going on a pilgrimage to visit the Tokugawa Japan I had learned to love when I was a graduate student at Columbia University. I did all I could to find vestiges of it everywhere, and I found many, to my great satisfaction and pleasure. I attended the Kabuki, No, and puppet theaters, was overwhelmed by the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, found them as they all were in the days of the shoguns.
But I also went to work. I found the conditions ideal to write a manuscript: relative isolation, no telephone ringing. The Japanese scholars did their utmost to make our life as pleasant as possible, the staff, especially the librarian, was very helpful. The other two foreign scholars were a delight, and Myroslava and I have remained in close touch with one of them and his family.
I was writing a manuscript on Russian foreign policy during the imperial period, and it included a section on Russia's relations with Japan. Hokkaido was the right place to reconstruct the vision the Russians might have had of northern Japan. We traveled to Aomori on the main island and on the way back, on the hydrofoil, had a chance to admire the famous bay of Hakodate, where the Russians appointed their first consul. We went to Wakkanai and saw the tip of Sakhalin Island, and tested the rough seas between Hokkaido and Rishiri Island. We visited the Abashiri museum, and admired a map showing how far into the sea the Amur River sends its waters, saw Kunashiri Island from the bus, and drove through Akksehi, where the Russians landed in the 1770s. Seven years later, in my office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where I am writing another manuscript, these are the images that often come back. They have informed my research. I saw with my own eyes a world I had read about in books; this has made a great difference in my perception of the world, at least of northern Asia.
Yes, my stay in Sapporo was one of the greatest
experiences of my life in

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