Annual Newsletter of the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University
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English News  No.8 , December 2000
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From the Director
SRC Summer Symposium in 2000
International Workshop on Agricultural
Transformation in the Post-Communist Countries

Foreign Visiting Fellowship Program
Our Current Staff
Research Funded by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
Guest Lectures from Abroad
Visitors from Abroad
The Library
Essays by Foreign Fellows
Ekaterina Nikova
Michael C. Hickey
Paul Wexler
Boris Lanin
Stanislav Lakoba

My Life at the SRC

  Michael C. Hickey(Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, USA, Foreign Visiting Fellow, SRC, 2000)

     In the autumn fields
     When the heedless wind blows by
     Over the pure-white dew,
     How the myriad unstrung gems
     Are scattered everywhere around
Ogura Hyakunin Isshu [One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets]
     This beautiful autumn day makes me want to ride my bicycle along the Toyohira River or hike up Mt. Maruyama taking photographs of the kami. Saying goodbye to Hokkaido will be difficult. These four months have been lovely, and the SRC has more than lived up to its excellent reputation.
     I have worked on two projects here - a history of the 1917 revolution in Smolensk Province and a study of Smolensk's Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries. I've finished several articles and book-chapters on 1917, but work on local Jewish history occupied most of my attention. I've drafted three chapters of my book Sown With Tears: The Jews of Smolensk (covering Jewish settlement in Smolensk Province before the 1860s, the local community in the Late Imperial period, and local politics during the 1917 revolution) and completed a rather long article manuscript on community demographics.

 The author beside lake Kuttara, Hokkaido 
     The SRC has been a great place to write thanks to Tonai-san      dedicated library staff, but also because of the remarkably efficient Nihei-san, Okubo-san, and everyone in the SRC office who keeps the place running like a clock. On those rare occasions when I had computer problems, Muroga-san and Nashizawa-san responded quickly and with good humor - no matter how bizarre the request. Susan and I will remember fondly many acts of kindness by the SRC, hardworking staff members, who do so much to make daily life easier for the visiting fellows.
     Of the many resources available to foreign fellows at the SRC, I think that the support of colleagues is the most important. Murakami-san has a gift for making visiting fellows feel comfortable, as he did during our expedition to watch fireworks during Summer Festival. I am indebted to the personal and professional kindness of Matsuzato-san and continue to marvel at the range and rigor of his scholarship. Our lives here were made easier and incalculably more pleasant thanks to the Tabatas: Tabata-san graciously answered dozens of questions via e-mail before our arrival and smoothed our transition to life and work in Sapporo; our generous friend Tabata Tomoko has patiently helped us with everything from vacations to trips to the doctor (and knows every good restaurant in Sapporo). The Yamamuras have made learning about Hokkaido fun, from climbing volcanoes to visiting onsen and cooking edamame. The Iedas have been kindly hosts and also have helped us better understand life in Japan. I gained much from daily interaction with the SRC's faculty, including conversations with Hayashi-san, Inoue-san, and Uyama-san, and from meeting faculty at other institutions in Japan, particularly Toyokawa-san and Togawa-sense.
     Finally, getting to know the other visiting fellows made life and work at the SRC much richer, from Reneo Lukic's insights on comparative history and Arbakhan Magomedov's inspiring zeal for life to the warmth of our neighbors the Lakobas. As fate would have it, I met two sons of Smolensk's Jewish community at the SRC - Valerii Gretchko and Boris Lanin! Valerii let me quiz him again and again about people and places, and the hours spent with him and his wife were a great pleasure. Boris' infectious laughter made each day joyful; his enormous knowledge of Russian-Jewish emigre publications and his friendship have been wonderful gifts. Finally, my conversations with Hatakayama Tadashi and Onodera Utako about our mutual research interests have been very rewarding, and Susan and I will carry home warm memories of them.
     I must admit that I regret not having studied Japanese before coming to Hokkaido, if only because it would have made life simpler for all those on whom I have imposed my ignorance. And I regret not drawing a map of the Library stacks during my orientation tour - it would have saved me from hours of wandering blindly around West 3 looking for books! Most of all I regret leaving Sapporo so soon.

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