KOBE — The Kobe center of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Naturund Volkenkunde Ostasiens, or German East Asiatic Society (OAG), opened Friday in Higashi-Nada Ward here at the former residence of a long-term German resident who donated his property to the organization.

Founded in Tokyo in 1873 by German diplomats, scholars and merchants living in Japan, the OAG society promotes Japanese studies and introduces Japanese culture to speakers of the German language.

The society publishes books and articles on Japan, and holds many round-table discussions, seminars and exhibitions, all in German. “The Kansai branch of the OAG was formed 60 years ago, but we had been meeting at various locations throughout the region and had no fixed address,” said Silvain Guignard, head of the center.

The property on which the new Kobe center sits was donated by Dirk van der Laan, a German resident whose great uncle first came to the city in 1889 to set up a trading company.

The property has been in the family every since, and van der Laan decided to donate it to the OAG upon the recent death of his mother, both because a permanent location was needed and to avoid Japan’s high inheritance taxes, he said.

On Friday afternoon, the center officially opened with remarks by Guignard and Ulrich Vollmer, chairman of OAG, as well as a Shinto purification ceremony for the new building.

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