Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward is seeking donations to build a museum dedicated to famed Meiji Era (1868-1912) writer Natsume Soseki that will be built at the former site of his residence.
Construction on the Soseki Sanbo memorial museum is set to start in fiscal 2015 in the Waseda-Minamicho district of the ward, where the author spent the last nine years of his life.
It will open in February 2017, the 150th anniversary of Soseki’s birth, and bring back to life the literary giant’s study room and living environment, ward officials said.
The ward office’s goal is to raise 200 million yen ($2 million) in donations from Soseki fans across the nation for the project.
When citing cities closely associated with Soseki, his fans usually pick Matsuyama and Kumamoto, where a young Soseki taught English at schools, or London, where he studied as a government-sponsored student from 1900 to 1902.
But he actually has close ties with the current Shinjuku Ward.
Soseki was born in 1867 in the current Kikuicho district in the ward. After starting his writing career in earnest at the age of 40, he moved to the house in Waseda-Mimamicho and lived there until he died at the age of 49 in 1916.
The house was called Soseki Sanbo (lodge), and the author wrote many of his representative works there, including “Kokoro” and “Sanshiro.”
Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) and other leading writers and scholars of the era frequently visited the house. The famed Mokuyokai gathering of young writers was held every Thursday there.
Using about a half of the 2,100-square-meter plot of Soseki’s former residence, the ward office opened the Soseki garden and built a small museum called Michikusa-an in 2008 to display items related to Soseki.
Public housing occupying the remaining half of the plot will be relocated, so the ward office decided to build the larger Soseki Sanbo museum.
The ward recently selected an architectural design submitted by Form Design Ichio, an architect office based in Musashino, western Tokyo, for the project and released an artist’s rendition of the new museum’s exterior.
The museum will reproduce the study room, guest room, terrace corridor and other interior characteristics of Soseki’s original house.
It will also contain exhibition rooms with permanent collections, a hall for symposiums and other large events, a souvenir shop and a library cafe that exhibits Soseki-related manga books and visual works.