Remembering Eizaburo Okuizumi(奥泉栄三郎)1940 – 2013

Remembering Okuizumi Eizaburo: "Purposeful serendipity"

I have known Mr. Okuizumi Eizaburo for over 20 years. He has been my friend, personal librarian, a sort-of father figure, and above all, a super senpai and sensei.

His help was too natural to notice. As Professor Norma Field wrote for his memorial service: "And I'm so very glad to be with so many of you who are feeling the loss that we could not have calculated because he was so always there, always helping before we even knew that we needed the help."

Okuizumi-san gave me the opportunity to work with him as a translator. His interests included: World War II, Japan's defeat, censored publications in occupied Japan, nationalism, militarism, the freedom of press, history of Japanese newspapers, etc. I was curious enough to translate the materials, but I was absolutely uninterested in these topics. In my ignorance, I thought they were things all lost to history.

I have suddenly come to appreciate all of them, which seem to have gained new relevancy and urgency in the long wake of Fukushima 3.11.

As Professor Field wrote, he was not only a librarian, but also "a scholar in his own right." Her account is especially insightful with regard to his helpfulness, "his own quiet learnedness," and “purposeful serendipity."

"And so that kind of purposeful serendipity, that seems to characterize his life, I think has affected and benefited us all. … So I felt again here a very purposeful serendipity, if it is true that it was accidental that he got into this field. That purposeful serendipity, I felt in some ways explains the mystery I felt about him and the mystery that is not. That is to say, he was that extremely unusual person in our line of business, who was very, very capable, learned, and just went about doing his business quietly, in his understated way without calling attention to it."

His "purposeful serendipity" continues to this day and beyond, and therefore can keep his works alive.

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