Go shiokaini azukarimashita Döhl de gozai masu.
Being invited to Kansai University as a Visiting Researcher is for me both a great honour and a particular pleasure.
It is a great honour because for a while I will be able to work with my colleagues from the German department on fields of research which also make up a major part of my own research.
And after nine years I take great pleasure in a reunion with colleagues from a university where I once had the opportunity of giving a lecture in 1987. At that time I was travelling from Tokyo to Kagoshima on behalf of a fellowship of the Japan Society for Promotion of Science giving lectures at many universities and discussing with colleagues.
It was the first time that I could visit the country which is the home of haiku poetry and literature, of wood-block printing (especially from Hokusai Katsushika and Hiroshige Ando) and of Sho art, forms of literature and art which have interested me since the days of my youth.
I had even tried to read and understand "Genji-monogatari" - of course in the German translation. And for a long time "In'ei raisan" by Tanizaki Jun'ichiro was my favorite aesthetic "good night"-reading - or should I say "my pillow-book"?
I must admit though that Japan became more and more of a puzzle to me.
In 1966, when I had just written my thesis on the German/French poet and sculptor Hans Jean Arp and had become assistant professor, I got to know a Japanese colleague for the first time - it was Professor Kamimura Hiroo, who then lectured at Kansai University.
For a year we met regularly in Stuttgart and discussed modern German literature, e.g. the novel "Berlin Alexanderplatz" by Alfred Döblin. I mention this, because it seems almost symbolic to me that there will be a debate on this novel on December, 6th.
In 1980 it was again a Professor from Kansai University, Shintani Hirotaka, who I had the chance of meeting. For a whole year we were able to do common research on the classical humorist Christoph Martin Wieland, who, at that time, was also a subject of my teaching. When in 1987, I came to Japan and Osaka for the first time, Shintani Hirotaka had just passed away. We had so much looked forward to seeing each other. But then all I could do was to light a senkô (joss-stick).
In 1986 I got to know another, a third colleague from Kansai University, Professor Morosawa Iwao, who was doing research on the works by Wilhelm Raabe. At that time I was also lecturing on this famous poet of the late 19th century. Thus - for the third time - we had a scientific dialogue on a common topic of research. This dialogue has continued until this very day since Professor Morosawa and I frequently exchange the results of our research on Raabe.
Again it is almost symbolic that I will be allowed to take the place of Professor Morosawa in his teaching on Wilhelm Raabe on December, 18th.
In Addition to this I will have the chance of teaching for Professor Usami on Hans Arp, Kurt Schwitters, Dadaism and the question of the European Cultural Revolution. This means another common major topic of research of the scientific dialogue between Osaka and Stuttgart.
So it was not mere politeness, but was meant literally when at the beginning I expressed my appreciation of this invitation to Kansai University as a Visiting Researcher. It is indeed a great honour and a pleasure to me.
Perhaps you would allow me to add a short remark on the dialogue. It seems to be an integral part of the phenomena of 20th century cultural history - not only in Europe - that in confrontation with an extreme ego-cult on the one hand there has - on the other hand - developed a growing willingness towards dialogue, common research and common artistic production. I found the ideal model of artistic cooperation and common creative production in the Japanese tradition of Renga poetry.
It was with good reason that Ooka Makoto, whom I will meet in Tokyo next time, defined the revival of the chain poems (Kettengedichte) as being a Japanese challenge to the lyrics of the West. in his words Renshi is not merely creative writing ignoring all limits of language and cultural frontiers, it is also a protest against the traditional ways of writing in the West.
For thirty years I have had the opportunity and great luck of learning from Japanese artists and my colleagues especially at Kansai University, of exchanging experiences and sharing common interests.
I'd like to express my gratitude for your invitation and my best wishes for you in the following sentence:
Hibi kore ko djitsu.