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One hundred and twenty years ago, Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn first arrived in Japan; in Matsue, a provincial backwater in Shimane Prefecture, he became Koizumi Yakumo — his adopted Japanese name. Enamored with the city’s ancient and enduring culture, he married into a local samurai family: No wonder, then, that it was in Matsue that Hearn wrote his famous “Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan.” This month, the city is celebrating its most famous (adopted) son with an art exhibition.

Entitled “The Open Mind of Lafcadio Hearn,” the show is Matsue’s version of a 2009 exhibition at the American College of Greece, which was nearly 15 years in the making. The idea first came to Greek art dealer Takis Efstathiou and Japanese artist Masaaki Noda back in 1996 when the pair traveled from Paris to the small Greek island of Lefkada (Hearn’s birthplace and namesake). After visiting Hearn’s childhood home and talking with locals who remembered old stories about his family, they decided to ask the college to sponsor a statue to commemorate Hearn.

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