Koizumi Yakumo (Lafcadio Hearn) arrived on the American Continent in 1869 on an immigrant boat "Cela" from either London or Le Havre in France, crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Hearn was 19 years old at that time. After staying in Cincinnati for 8 years, he went down to the south along the Mississippi heading for New Orleans. He spent 10 years here from 1877 (age of 27) to 1887 (age of 37), one of the long periods while he stayed in one place during his one way trips, during which he faced some critical moments that influenced his later life.
New Orleans is a town where the influences of the periods ruled by France and Spain strongly remain. The existence of population of mixed blood of European Caucasian and African slaves and blending of different cultures created a unique culture, which made the city very attractive. Hearn was so much drawn into the attraction of mix culture of Creole, walking around every corner of the town searching for attractions of Creole in its proverbs, music, cuisine, Voodoo, tombs and ghost stories.
It cannot also be overlooked that he opened his eyes to Japanese culture when he saw the exhibits in the Japanese pavilion in New Orleans World Exposition held in 1884 and the following year.
Hearn obtained a job as an assistant editor at a newspaper, Daily City Item and wrote a lot of articles as a journalist (1878-1881). He wrote remarks and reviews, and serialized articles with illustration, which made the paper popular.
Hearn’s wooden printed illustrations were the first satirical comics in America, dealing with political satire and ordinary lives in which you can find his sense of humor and thoughtfulness, social background of the period.
He also started translation of French literature around that time, which built his reputation as a writer. Later he was invited as a manger of literature Department of Times Democrat and was active as a journalist specializing in reviews and translation of literature. It was how young Hearn started his career as a writer, publishing 6 books (*1) and having established the first step to move forward in Martinique, his next destination and further to Japan.
We are aiming at showing ‘Open Mind’ that Hearn was establishing in his youth, exhibiting the sketches he drew and the articles he wrote, focusing the characters and attractions of the culture of New Orleans which intoxicated Hearn. Main exhibits of the exhibition are the 20 illustration articles on The Daily City Item as panels, having given him a chance to draw his potentials. We would like the visitors to enjoy New Orleans Hearn saw, the American society and cultural background at the end of the 19th century and his ‘thoughts’. Besides the books he published when he was in New Orleans, letters Hearn wrote to his friends and his reporter’s notebooks with his own handwriting will also be exhibited. Visitors will also enjoy the period background and sceneries in those days with a number of precious photos of the city of New Orleans in 1970’s and 1980’s provided by the city municipality, Matsue and New Orleans (*2) are cities for tourism both in culture and nature with the street views of the 18th century and rivers and lakes. Unlike other cities in North America, New Orleans is a popular city of tourism taking most advantage of negative natural factors such as swamps and bayous in order to emphasize its blended, non-Christian and magical culture.
In that sense, New Orleans has a lot of things in common with Matsue, who started to make use of different world by organizing ghost tours and featuring Kwaidan. We hope this exhibition will not only show us Hearn’s life and interest in New Orleans, a city connected deeply to Matsue, by showing the panels, but also provide us with an opportunity to search for the ideal way of improving tourism and culture in the future in Matsue.
↑*1: One of Cleopatra’s Nights and Other Fantastic Romances (1882, French translation) Stray Leaves from Strange Literature (1884), Gombo Zhèbes (1885), La Cuisine Créole (1885), Historical Sketch Book and Guide to New Orleans (1885), Some Chinese Ghosts (1887)
↑*2: New Orleans and Matsue will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the friendship city relationship this year. After a quiet period for some time, the relationship was reactivated when a delegation of citizens was sent from Matsue to New Orleans in October, 2012 and the Art Exhibition 'The Open Mind of Lafcadio Hearn in New Orleans’ and lectures were held at Tulane University.
organizers: NPO Matsue Tourism / Matsue City Municipaly
co-organizer: Shimane University Library
coorination: Matsue City Library / The Historic New Orleans Collection
supporter: The San-in Chuo Shimpo Newspaper Co., Ltd.
Superviser: Koizumi Bon
Coordinator: Koizumi Shoko
Designer: Ishikawa Kiyoharu