LONDON – A museum in London dedicated to Japanese novelist Soseki Natsume (1867-1916), who spent two years in the British capital, will close in September, a year earlier than initially planned, its operator told Kyodo News on Sunday.
Ikuo Tsunematsu had previously planned to close the Soseki Museum in September 2017 as next year marks 150 years since the novelist’s birth, but Britain’s decision in June to leave the European Union forced the director to give up operating the museum for another year.
Following the Brexit vote, the outlook for Britain’s economy has become uncertain and real estate prices in the country have fallen and are unlikely to turn around anytime soon.
As the value of the room used for the museum is expected to fall further, Tsunematsu, 64, has decided to sell it as soon as possible.
Tsunematsu, an authority on Soseki and a professor at Sojo University in the city of Kumamoto, opened the museum in 1984.
The museum is located in Clapham in south London, across the street from one of the lodging houses where Soseki stayed while in the British capital between 1900 and 1902.
It has more than 2,000 items related to Soseki, a literary giant of modern Japan known for such novels as “Kokoro” (“Heart”) and “Wagahai wa Neko de aru” (“I am a Cat”).
Soseki, whose real name was Kinnosuke Natsume, was sponsored by the Japanese government to study the English language and British literature during his visit to the country.
The museum’s visitors have included Crown Prince Naruhito and former Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu as well as many Soseki scholars.
The museum, open for three days a week between February and September, has been run by Tsunematsu’s wife, Yoshiko, 56. It will close on Sept. 28.
“It’s very regrettable that we are forced to close the museum one year earlier than initially planned due to Britain’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union. We want to make use of the items in a way that Soseki’s many fans will appreciate,” Tsunematsu said.
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