• Kyodo

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Three public universities have launched a joint online database featuring the collected works and materials of British writer Lafcadio Hearn, who introduced Japan to the Western world through his literature.

The database, accessible to the public, is the first to compile the works of Hearn (1850-1904), who is known in Japan as Koizumi Yakumo and is credited with introducing Japan to foreign readers, according to officials at Shimane University, which helped create the database.

Information on Hearn’s life and writing had been scattered around various locations, mostly libraries.

The project was launched in 1999 with funding from the education ministry and involves Shimane University, Toyama University and Kumamoto University.

The database features about 30,000 Hearn-related pieces, including magazine articles about him, his manuscripts and his written works owned mostly by public and private universities nationwide, according to the officials.

In the future, they plan to include in the database materials owned by private scholars.

Hearn’s great-grandson, Bon Koizumi, an assistant professor at Shimane Women’s College, hopes the Web site will provide an opportunity to broaden readership of Hearn’s works.

A key historical figure in Japan, the Greece-born Hearn is particularly well-known in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, where a memorial museum is named after him, and where his residence, where he lived with his Japanese wife, a high-ranking samurai’s daughter, is preserved.

His books include “Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan” (1894), which captures much of life in Matsue, and “In Ghostly Japan” (1899).

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