VMU to Hold Presentation of Book about Steponas Kairys’ Interest in Japan


On Monday, April 18, 5 p.m, at the Vytautas Magnus University V. Biržiškos Reading Room (K. Donelaičio g. 52-218), a seminar will be held presenting a book about Lithuanian pre-war intellectual Steponas Kairys by Japanese journalist Kumiko Hirano, whose book touches upon a lesser known aspect of this individual‘s life – his deep interest in Japan

Events held as presentation of the book on the famous intellectual Steponas Kairys, Saka-no ue-no Japoniya (Japan Over the Hill), are scheduled for April 18 and April 21 in Kaunas and Vilnius, respectively. The presentations will be attended by the book‘s author journalist Kumiko Hirano.

On Monday, April 18, 5 p.m., at the Vytautas Magnus University V. Biržiškos Reading Room (K. Donelaičio g. 52-218) a seminar will be held in Lithuanian and Japanese, titled Steponas Kairys – Tarpukario Lietuvos Visuomenės Veikėjas Ir Japonologijos Pradininkas Lietuvoje (Steponas Kairys – Public Figure of Interwar Lithuania and the Pioneer of Japonistics in Lithuania). The author will present her book, its primary idea and personal experiences while researching this still little known page from Kairys’ biography. Presenters from the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania, Kairys’ hometown and VMU will reveal the multidimensional nature of his personality and achievements for the good of Lithuanian society.

On Thursday, April 21, 3 p.m., the book will also be presented at the Vrublevskių Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (Žygimantų  g. 1, Vilnius). English and Lithuanian language will be used in the event.

Both of the events will be attended by Her Excellency the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Lithuania Miyoko Akashi.

The organizers of the events are the Embassy of Japan in Lithuania and the Vytautas Magnus University Library, the VMU Centre for Asian Studies and the Vrublevskių Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.

Steponas Kairys (1879–1964) was one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party in Lithuania, the signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania in 1918. Living in St. Petersbourg in the 20th century, he was very interested in Japan, which had just won the Russian-Japanese war at the time. The courage of this nation and the neatness of the Japanese public fascinated Kairys. After returning to Lithuania 1906, he released three books under the pen-name Dėdė (Uncle): Japonija Seniau Ir Dabar (Japan Then and Now), Japonų Konstitucija (Japanese Constitution) and Kaip Japonai Gyvena Dabar (How the Japanese Are Living Now). These books are the first known works about Japan written by Lithuanian authors, marking the beginnings of Japanese studies as well. During the interwar, Kairys lived in Kaunas, where he contributed vastly to the development of Kaunas plumbing. In 1923–1943 he was a lecturer at Vytautas Magnus University, but had to emigrate to Germany in 1944 and later to the USA.


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