In his Feb. 28 letter tribute to the late movie critic and author Donald Richie, “Remembering Donald Richie,” Japanologist Karel van Wolferen recalls the weekly lunches that Richie and he had with literary translator Ed Seidensticker. What a magnificent and lively gathering that must have been. It would have been a delight to unobtrusively eavesdrop on those conversations.
Richie helped the world better understand Japan. Those of us who can appreciate this are grateful. For 60 years, Richie wrote about his adopted home, much like a latter-day Lafcadio Hearn.
Both Seidensticker and Richie arrived in Tokyo just after the end of World War II. For this reason we won’t see their likes again. Their works were unique to that tumultuous period, contributing greatly to the healing process that continues to this day.
Richie wasn’t just a scholar; he was also very much a bon vivant. I would recommend that anyone visiting Japan take time to read his journal, “The Inland Sea.” It inspired me to spend a year traveling on Shikoku. You’ve not lived until you’ve seen an autumn sunset from atop a hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea, with the panorama bathed in the rays of the setting sun. I long to make the Buddhist pilgrimage along the much-worn path to those 88 revered temples. Richie would understand, although he called Tokyo home.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.