Welcome to the Aizu Museum
Welcome to the Waseda University Aizu Yaichi Memorial Museum website!
As its full name is a little long, we’ll be referring to it simply as the “Aizu Museum.” Our museum was established in 1998 in Building No.2 (the former university library,) which is one of the oldest buildings on the Waseda Campus. The museum’s focus is on Oriental art, modern art, and archaeology, and it houses a collection of over 20,000 works of art and other pieces. When coming in through the university’s Main Gate, if you head a little way up the slope leading towards the statue of university founder Professor Okuma, you’ll recognize the entrance to the museum by the vivid blue banner. Once you step inside, you’ll find yourself in what feels like a completely different world to the busy campus where tens of thousands of students come and go each day. Waiting for you are a range of masterpieces including the gigantic, circular Nihonga piece “Meian,” a collaboration between Taikan Yokoyama and Kanzan Shimomura; “Roma Shisetsu” by Seison Maeda; a statue of Shukkon Goujin (Vajradhara) original created for the Chicago World’s Fair; and Yaichi Aizu’s collection of Chinese “Mingqi” burial objects, as well as calligraphy by Yaichi himself, who was also a famed calligrapher. What’s more, the unique exhibitions held several times a year give you the chance to experience exhibits that traverse space and time, ranging from Jomon period pottery to contemporary art. (For more details, please see “Exhibition .”)
Do you know Yaichi Aizu?
Now, let us take a moment to talk about the museum’s namesake, Waseda University emeritus professor and Doctor of Literature Yaichi Aizu (1881—1956.) Born in Niigata, after graduating from the English Literature department at Waseda University, Aizu taught at a private academy and pre-WWII middle school while at the same time aspiring to become a researcher of Oriental art, due to his deeply-rooted passion for the art of Nara. In 1926, he began lecturing in Oriental Art History at Waseda University’s Department of letters [today’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences]. He is also well-known for his tanka poems telling of his travels around the temples of Nara—such as “Ohotera no/Maroki hashira no/Tsukikage wo/Tsuchi ni fumitsutsu/Mono wo koso omohe” (“Stepping on the ground/Over the moon’s shadow/Reflecting the round columns/Of the great temple/Absorbed in thoughts,”) which was inspired by the entasis on the pillars at Toshodaiji—and for his unique, characteristic calligraphy, written under the alias “Shuso Dojin.” From the first year that Yaichi began lecturing at the university, he already advocated a teaching method that placed great importance on first-hand learning from original pieces. He would show his own collection of Oriental art to his students, and stressed the importance of establishing of a museum at Waseda University. 72 years on from Professor Aizu’s original vision, with the help of University President Takayasu Okushima and many others, we were finally able to open such a museum. (For more information, refer to former director “Yaichi Aizu and the Museum.”)
“Every day should be a new day”
In 1914, Yaichi Aizu wrote out a “Code of Learning” that pupils at the private academy he then taught at should abide by. It was made up of four points: “One should love this life deeply,” “One should reflect on and know oneself,” “One should build character through learning,” and “Every day should be a new day.” This code is still on display at the museum today, in Yaichi’s own writing, and we think that, one hundred years on, it may still serve as a guiding compass—not only for students, but also for modern-day people who can all too easily become caught up in the pressures of everyday life. German literary master Goethe says that “The world is so great and rich, and life so full of variety, that you can never lack occasions for poems,” (Eckerman’s “Conversations with Goethe”) and his words apply to any form of art. We hope that you will use the Aizu Museum as a place to reaffirm the notion that “every day is a new day” and to discover rich and varied interpretations of life and the world. We look forward to seeing you all here.
Fumi Tsukahara (Fifth Museum Director)