Keyaki House "Hougetsu-an", the building that serves as the office of The Matsumae International Foundation, was originally home to Prof. Dr. Atsuuji ASHIKAGA and his wife, the former a friend sympathetic to the cause of our founder, Prof. Dr. Shigeyoshi MATSUMAE.
The connection between Dr. ASHIKAGA(right side) and Dr. MATSUMAE(left side) can be traced back to 1934, when both were visiting Europe as Japanese government scholarship students. At the time, the Japanese government was sending the talented young people who would be the leaders of the next generation to European countries to foster their growth. Dr. ASHIKAGA was sent to France, Germany, and Iran to research Old Persian and Sanskrit from 1932 to 1935 by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture. Dr. MATSUMAE was sent to Germany to study telecommunication technologies by the Ministry of Communications. The two met in March 1934, when Dr. MATSUMAE made a brief stopover on his way back to Japan from Germany in Paris’ Satsuma Hall, a residence for students studying abroad (today the Maison du Japon: Fondation Satsuma of the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris).
Reflecting on this time in later years, Dr. ASHIKAGA stated: “Mr. MATSUMAE and I may be very different people, but we both had an attitude of unshakeable determination toward life, knowing what we planned to do, and this allowed us to gradually deepen our mutual understanding and develop a closer relationship.” (Matsumae Bunko, Collection I)
After they had both returned to Japan, the two continued to strengthen their ties, with Dr. ASHIKAGA taking up the posts of Dean of School of Letters and President at Tokai University after retiring from Kyoto University, continuing to be a supporter of Dr. MATSUMAE throughout his life. Zelkova House was gifted to the Foundation by Dr. ASHIKAGA’s wife Sumiko, following his passing, and has been used as our office since 2002. Welcoming scholarship students for graduation ceremonies and training, Zelkova House, too, is supported by the “little thread of connection” forged by Dr. MATSUMAE and Dr. ASHIKAGA.