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Motoyuki Shibata still clearly remembers his first encounter with literature in English. He was 12 years old and his English textbook included a modified version of Lafcadio Hearn’s short story, “Mujina.” To this day, Shibata remembers the first sentence: “Kinokunizaka was a long slope in Tokyo.”

“Although I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I heard a whole story in that sentence,” says Shibata, 66. “It was completely different from all the other English sentences we had studied before, like ‘This is a pen.’ It was the first time I thought how fun it would be to read fiction in the English language.”

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