Donald Keene, a prominent scholar of Japanese literature who last year became a Japanese citizen, has adopted the shamisen player Seiki Uehara as his son, Keene revealed on Monday in a talk he gave in Niigata.
According to Seiki, 62, the talk of possible adoption surfaced around spring 2011 when the U.S.-born Keene, 90, expressed his intention to switch to Japanese citizenship.
The musician took Keene’s surname in March last year.
Their exchanges began in November 2006 when Seiki, who performs “joruri,” or traditional Japanese narrative music, visited the scholar to ask him about “kojoruri,” an ancient form of it.
He also sought Keene’s advice when he performed “Kochi Hoin Godenki,” a work in the puppet joruri theater, in 2009 for the first time in about 300 years based on a script discovered at the British Museum.
Seiki played the traditional instrument for many years under the stage name Tsurusawa Asazo V.
In 1997, he returned to his hometown of Niigata, where he taught and performed shamisen while helping with his family’s brewery business.
Living in Tokyo with Keene, Seiki cooks meals for and manages the schedule of the scholar.
“I want to support the busy teacher and see to it that he stays healthy,” the musician said.