Matsue museum opens Hearn exhibit


A museum in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, kicked off a yearlong exhibition Sunday to follow the footsteps of naturalized Japanese writer Lafcadio Hearn, also known as Yakumo Koizumi, through photographs.

Born to an Irish father and Greek mother in 1850, Hearn arrived in Japan in 1890 and married a Japanese woman in Matsue, where he lived for a while. He introduced Japan’s traditional culture to the world before passing away in 1904 at the age of 54.

The exhibition at the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum presents modern photos of scenes depicted by Hearn in his 1894 travelogue “Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan,” taken by Toshinobu Takashima, a photographer from Shimane Prefecture.

The travelogue is a collection of Hearn’s notes from his trips mainly to Shimane and Tottori prefectures, and includes episodes about Matsue and its vicinity.

The exhibition, “A Journey to Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan,” will be presented in two stages.

The first, which began Sunday, is “The Chief City of the Province of the Gods,” focuses on places mainly in and near Matsue, such as the Izumo Taisha shrine.

The second, “Traveling Hearn,” opening Oct. 5, will deal with spots other than the Matsue area, like Okinoshima, a group of islands in the Sea of Japan, or Mount Daisen in Tottori.

“This is a collaboration between Hearn’s spirit and my sensibility as a photographer,” Takashima, 39, said. “I was always thinking what Hearn would have felt in each situation, when taking the photos. It would be my pleasure if this event makes visitors know the world of Hearn.”

The first edition of “Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan,” which is being printed by a New York-based publisher, and its German, French and Polish versions will also be displayed at the exhibition.

Shoko Koizumi, 51, the wife of Hearn’s great-grandson, coordinated the event. “I hope the visitors will go back and forth between the past and now through the photos,” she said.