Yaichi Aizu and Kosei Ando: Succession of Scholarship and the Arts—Commemorating the Donation of the Kosei Ando Collection to the Museum
Research Associate at the Waseda University Aizu Museum
The Aizu Museum at Waseda University plans to hold the exhibition “Yaichi Aizu and Kosei Ando: Succession of Scholarship and the Arts—Commemorating the Donation of the Kosei Ando Collection to the Museum,” starting on November 28, 2016 in its first-floor gallery (photo 1).
Koseki Ando (1900 – 1970) was one of the best pupils of Waseda University’s Professor Emeritus Yaichi Aizu (1881 – 1956). Ando lectured on Oriental art history at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and his research covered a broad range of areas. He was also famous for his studies on Chinese and Japanese art, as well as the ancient Chinese Buddhist priest Jianzhen and Japanese mummies. In recent years, his relatives kindly donated his collection of antique objects to the museum, housed under the name, “Koseki Ando Collection.”
The encounter between Ando and Aizu dates back to the time when Ando entered Waseda Junior High School. At that time, Aizu was teaching English there. Aizu introduced Ando to the world of literature, history, arts and other subjects, and Ando decided that he would look up to Aizu as his mentor for the rest of his life. Their mentoring relationship continued for more than 40 years until Aizu’s death, and Ando’s deep veneration for his mentor remained unchanged throughout his life. Aizu wore many hats: he was a scholar of English literature and Oriental art history, a poet, and a calligrapher. Additionally, Ando majored in French literature at Waseda University, wrote poetry and was an excellent calligrapher and painter. As the versatility of his talents would suggest, Ando’s collection covers varying historical ages, from ancient to modern times, and stretches from the East to the West.
Aizu wrote the Code of Learning, which served as the standards for their learning, on a sheet of paper and handed it out to his followers (Photo 2). It consisted of four rules: “Love this life deeply,” “Reflect and learn about yourself,” “Cultivate your character through scholarship and the arts,” and “Make new discoveries each day.” Ando indelibly engraved the Code in his heart, which Aizu advocated, and used them as the guiding principle for his life.
Through the Ando Collection, the forthcoming exhibition intends to unfold how Ando inherited Aizu’s Code of Learning and how he applied what he had learned from Aizu to make his own discoveries.
The following sections look at the history of the mentor and the mentee, from their encounter to parting, as well as the new discoveries Ando made while presenting some pieces from the exhibition.
From door boy to key member of a research group
Even after he graduated from Waseda Junior High School and went on to university, Ando admired Aizu and constantly visited his house (Shusodo) to house-sit and act as the door boy (around 1922). At that time, fascinated by the scenic beauty of Nara, Aizu often visited the ancient capital while teaching at the junior high school. Aizu wrote poetry at the places he visited and became absorbed in Nara art, and Ando sometimes accompanied him on his trips. In 1923, the Nara Art Research Group was established under Aizu’s leadership with Ando as its manager. Ando most likely expanded his research on Nara art at this time while studying under Aizu and working hard with Aizu’s students. In the following year, Ando joined Americaya, an architectural firm, but in addition to his job at the firm, he continued to study Nara art and published a succession of theses. Meanwhile, Aizu quit his job at the junior high school and started to give lectures on Oriental art history at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in 1926. The Nara Art Research Group, which was comprised of Aizu’s followers, later changed its name to the Oriental Art Research Group and then to Mokuyokai, but Ando had played a central role in all three associations.
Home from Beijing and back to Waseda University again
In 1938, Ando became the editor-in-chief at Shinmin Press, a printing company jointly established with Japanese and Chinese capital, and moved to Beijing. He stayed there for 8 years, and during this period, he investigated the preservation quality of various historical sites, met with Chinese intellectuals, and frequently went into the field to study Jianzhen, which became his lifework.
After the war in 1945, Aizu resigned from his position as professor at Waseda University. On the other hand, Ando returned to Japan from Beijing the following year. After Ando’s repatriation, Aizu became very worried about him and he recommended Ando to Waseda University as an assistant professor. Photo 3 shows a postcard of which Ando received from Aizu, dated May 27, 1946.
“I recommended you and Kosugi to fill the vacancies at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Waseda University. Please meet Messrs. Hidaka, Yamauchi, and Akamatsu as soon as possible. There should be three spaces for the time being. Please contact them directly.”
In 1946, Ando began to work as assistant professor at Waseda University in place of Aizu and continued to teach until he died at the age of 71.
Passing on the arts
Aizu was a great calligrapher and a scholar of the history of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. In his junior high school days, Ando asked Aizu to teach him calligraphy, and his introduction to the art started with Aizu’s unique training method of repeatedly drawing spirals and straight lines. In calligraphy, Aizu hated to use reference materials, such as Chinese classics, and pursued his own original style. For this reason, Ando recalled that Aizu had been extremely averse to his students imitating his calligraphy.
At the exhibition, calligraphy written by Ando (Photo 4) will be on display along with Aizu’s calligraphic works that Ando had formerly possessed, showing how Ando broke away from his mentor’s style of calligraphy and developed his own by comparing the two.
Exchanges between mentor and mentee
The Kosei Ando Collection also includes 159 letters from Aizu. It is surprising that Aizu was such a diligent writer, but it is also noteworthy that Ando carefully kept all these letters. The content of the letters is diverse, ranging from practical university matters to Aizu’s concern about Ando’s living conditions, or Aizu’s vigorous encouragement of learning. In particular, there is a long letter addressed to both Ando and his colleague, Kazuo Kosugi (1908–1998), which used 22 sheets of paper and is full of his extraordinarily passionate feelings toward the two pupils.
With what feelings did Ando take to Aizu’s lofty ideals, expectations, and affection? The exhibition includes a manuscript of the words of condolence Ando read at Aizu’s funeral. It reads:
As he vowed after Aizu’s death, Ando strove to conduct research and push education forward, making unique new discoveries in his studies of Jianzhen, investigations of Japanese mummies, and surveys of local cultural properties and initiatives for their preservation.
Sojourns in Europe and folk craft
As described above, Ando’s new discoveries covered a wide range of areas. This exhibition features the time in which he stayed in Western Europe as Waseda University’s overseas researcher in 1962. Indeed, he traveled brimming with energy, giving academic lectures in France and Italy, visiting museums, art galleries as well as remains of ancient civilizations and other sites of interest all over the continent. Specifically speaking, his visit to Greece filled him with deep emotions. This was because his mentor, Aizu, never stepped on Greek soil despite his strong admiration of the ancient Greek civilization, which was the origin of Nara art. Ando expressed his feelings toward his deceased mentor, saying that he walked as if he were accompanying Aizu.
During his stay in Western Europe, Ando collected objects of folk craft from various places, such as plates, trays, hats, and fabric, which people used in daily life (Photo 5). He expressed his thoughts toward traditional handicrafts, emphasizing that they had been created by local people over generations, constituting the basis of the people’s art and design.
Ando inherited this stance of studying objects and their creators inquisitively from his mentor, whether they were Occidental or Oriental and whether they came from the public or private sector. This is one of the major charms of Ando’s studies of art history.
At the exhibition, various materials, including letters not presented in this article and academic journals published jointly by Aizu and Ando, will be on exhibit. A new image of Yaichi Aizu will emerge through reviewing the accomplishments of Ando, who shared a little more than 40 years of life with Aizu as his pupil.
We hope that many of you will visit the exhibition.
- Monday, November 28, 2016 to Saturday, January 21, 2017
- Gallery of the Waseda University Aizu Museum, 1st Floor
- 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (until 6:00 p.m. on Fridays during the exhibition)
Closed on Sundays, national holidays, and December 23 to January 5.
Research Associate at the Waseda University Aizu Museum
After completing the doctoral program at Waseda University Graduate School of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, Tokuizumi became a Research Associate at the Waseda University Aizu Museum in April 2016, the post that she holds today. Her field of specialization is the history of calligraphy during the period of China’s Southern and Northern Dynasties.