Symposium marking the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Takeshiro Matsuura, "Exploring the World of the One-Mat Room"

Update: October 17, 2018

On Saturday, October 6, "Exploring the World of the One-Mat Room," a symposium marking the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Takeshiro Matsuura, who is well known as the godparent of Hokkaido, was held at the auditorium in ICU Diffendorfer Memorial Hall East Wing.

The "Ichijo-jiki" or One-Mat Room is a small study Takeshiro built to spend his final years in and now preserved on the campus of ICU. The room is comprised of pieces of wood from historical structures around Japan that Takeshiro, also known as an explorer, collected by asking friends he made during his journey across the country. The symposium highlighted such themes as what kind of a man Takeshiro Matsuura was and why he built the One-Mat Room, to understand Takeshiro and the world view behind the One-Mat Room.

As a prologue to the symposium, Mr. Masato Takegami, Mayor of Takeshiro's home town Matsusaka City of Mie Prefecture, and Professor Katsuhiko Mori, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, ICU, talked about the One-Mat Room and the personality and perspectives of Takeshiro. It was pointed out that the "network of relationships he built in his journey throughout Japan was crystalized in the One-Mat Room" and that Takeshiro, one of the few Japanese who retained respect and empathy for the Ainu people, was "an open-minded man who had respect for diversity."

The keynote lecture, titled "The Journey of Curiosity and Creativity by Takeshiro Matsuura," was given by Professor Henry Smith (Professor Emeritus of Columbia University), who has also taught at ICU. Prof. Smith explained how he came to encounter the One-Mat Room and unraveled the achievements and inner thoughts of Takeshiro (whom Prof. Smith calls "a master of travels") through analysis of multiple materials including his travel journals and "Takeshiro Nehanzu (illustration of nirvana)."


Following the keynote lecture was a panel discussion by Prof. Smith, Mr. Mei Yamamoto (Chief Curator of Matsuura Takeshiro Memorial Museum), Mr. Yasuyuki Miura (Principal Curator of Hokkaido Museum) and ICU Professor Emeritus William Steele. Insightful views were exchanged on why Takeshiro built the One-Mat Room with pieces of old wood collected from historical buildings, and what we today can learn from Takeshiro and his One-Mat Room.

Some of the panels remarked that "Takeshiro must have had a strong longing for the unknown and that's why he actively challenged things that others wouldn't do," "we have a lot to learn from his spirit of inquiry and ability to take action." Others noted that few ICU students know the One-Mat Room is located within the campus, and pointed out that given that the essence of liberal arts, which characterizes ICU's education, lies in the spirit of inquiry, "it may be possible to take this opportunity and utilize the One-Mat Room and assets of Takeshiro in the education offered at ICU."

Concurrent exhibitions commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Takeshiro Matsuura: ICU Hachiro Yuasa Memorial Museum Special Exhibition "The One-Mat Room at ICU" and ICU Archives Special Exhibition "Be Ambitious - Matsuura Takeshiro and a Genealogy of Thinkers in the Meiji Period" were being held on the day of the symposium and attracted many visitors as well. The Hachiro Yuasa Memorial Museum Special Exhibition featuring a full-scale model of the One-Mat Room is held until Friday, November 9, and the ICU Archives Special Exhibition will continue until Friday, June 14, 2019.

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