A question often asked of Professor Ryozo Tanaka is “What made you so keen on English culture and tradition?”
To answer, he digs into his memories for “the deep structure of my Anglophilia.” He said, “I spent my infancy in wartime, during the Japanese-Chinese War and World War II. My earliest memory is of Tenny son’s ‘Enoch Arden,’ which my father used to read at supper time. I remember the books on my father’s bookshelf, volumes by Ruskin, Byron, Wordsworth, Tennyson. They were the beginning.”
At Azabu secondary school in the early postwar years, Tanaka continued his immersion in English. “One of my teachers kept encouraging me to read at random as many great English literary works as possible, whether I understood them or not,” he said. “That urging helped me, and still does even today.”
Tanaka’s course was firmly set by the time he entered Keio University in 1953. “As an undergraduate there I was greatly influenced by three great scholars,” he said. “Kiyoshi Ikeda, an old Azabu boy, went on to Leys School, Cambridge, and Queen’s College. From him I learned much about England and Englishness. Fumio Kuriagawa, professor of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English, taught me how to study precisely and deeply. Junzaburo Nishiwaki was one of the greatest 20th-century Japanese poets and the greatest scholar of English and worldwide literature. He taught me literary thinking.”
With mentors of such caliber, Tanaka could not go wrong. Graduated with a B.A. in English literature, he began teaching English at Keio High School in 1957. Securing his M.A. in English literature, he embarked on teaching at Keio University, intent on returning to his students some of the educated benefits he had received.
Tanaka widened the scope of his research. From a study of Evelyn Waugh and his novels, he became interested in their backgrounds. He examined English upper-class tradition and cultural heritage, especially magnificent stately homes. For two years, sponsored by Keio University, he pursued research on English literature and theoretical linguistics at Darwin College, Cambridge. Deepening his interest in country houses, he studied not only architectural exteriors and interior styles but also the histories and life within their walls.
A member of the Japan-British Society in Tokyo, Tanaka made friends with well-connected Englishmen and women in Japan who were able to introduce him to the aristocratic owners of many famous British country houses. Many residents invited him privately to visit their stately homes and look around them closely.
Twice, Tanaka went on sabbatical leave from Keio to Cambridge, to be on both occasions a visiting associate member of Darwin College. His research from his private invitations and from his Darwin College connection resulted in his first beautiful book, “The Country House.”
“For more than 10 years from 1989, I drove around Britain every summer wi th my wife, Shigeko, as manager and navigator, and Akihisa Masuda as architectural photographer,” Tanaka said. The application of the energies of this team resulted in Tanaka’s succeeding outstanding books, “Robert Adam’s Country House,” “Historic Houses and Castles,” and “Industrial Heritage of Britain.”
Tanaka retired from his professorship at Keio University in 2000. Now in his full retirement, he gives serial lectures to different institutions, which include Waseda University Open College and Keisen University Ginza Forum.
VIVIENNE KENRICK has decided to put down the pen and announce her retirement from writing. Her columns have run virtually nonstop in The Japan Times since December 1963. This was her last Personality Profile. We would like to express our utmost appreciation for her devoted years of contributions. Vivienne, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
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