LONDON – A museum in London devoted to renowned Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), which was closed over two years ago, is set to be revived in nearby Surrey in May.
Ikuo Tsunematsu, 67, who headed the museum, decided to reopen it after receiving a flurry of requests from Soseki fans. The Soseki Museum was closed in September 2016 after 32 years of operation, due partly to financial difficulties.
Dispatched by the Japanese government, Soseki studied in London for two years from 1900.
Tsunematsu has renovated his house in Surrey to host the new museum. On display will be more than 10,000 items, including books Soseki loved when he was in the U.K., programs of theatrical performances he watched and his works translated into various languages.
While the former museum was run with the general public in mind, many of the exhibits at the new facility will be for researchers.
After collecting materials related to Soseki during the period of the novelist’s stay in the U.K., Tsunematsu opened the former museum in 1984 in front of Soseki’s final lodging in London. It attracted Japanese tourists and many famous people, including Crown Prince Naruhito, who visited while he was studying in the country.
“I hope to talk about Soseki with those who love him, over tea,” Tsunematsu said of his decision to reopen the museum. He plans to operate the museum between March and August and accept visitors that have made prior reservations.
Tsunematsu, who is from Kagoshima Prefecture, went to the U.K. in 1974 and learned about Soseki while living in London. Ever since, he has taken great pleasure in researching Soseki, collecting materials about the novelist and running the museum with money out of his own pocket.
“Securing funds was the biggest challenge, but I’ve been able to keep going as I’ve refrained from lavish spending in my life,” he said.
“I want to make the new museum a place that offers new clues for research about Soseki, and helps people get closer to his works.”