Soka University Collection – Treasures of Goethe Exhibition

Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of
Founder’s Special Lecture “Goethe the Man”

Exhibition Period 1 December 2023 – 22 December 2023
Venue Soka University Global Square 1st Floor Entrance Hall (Free admission)
Organizer Ikeda Research Institute for Soka Education (IRISE)
Exhibition Flyer
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of founder Daisaku Ikeda’s first special lecture titled “Goethe the Man,” the university displayed rare exhibits in its collection related to the German literary giant, Goethe, including the first edition of his works and nine handwritten letters.

In particular, the nine letters were mostly addressed to August, Goethe’s only son who survived into adulthood, and are historically valuable, including writings related to West-Eastern Divan and “Marienbad Elegy”; masterpieces written in his later years. This is the largest collection of handwritten letters in Japan, seven of which were on display in Japan for the first time. (replicas of the handwritten letters were displayed)

At the opening ceremony held on December 1, 2023, Soka University President Suzuki delivered his opening remarks, followed by greetings from First Secretary Dr. Soehnke Grothusen, the Director of Culture Department from the German Embassy, and Professor Takao Ito (Faculty of Letters) introduced the congratulatory speech by the former President of Goethe-Gesellschaft in Japan, Dr. Yoshihito Mori.

Soka University Chairman Mr. Yasunori Tashiro reflected on Founder Ikeda’s special lecture held in 2003, under the title “Goethe the Man,” and called for a renewed determination to “succeed and continue to pursue the grand goal of the Founder, and to realize world peace and the happiness of the people.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Faculty of Education Associate Professor Hiromi Adachi and a student from the Faculty of Letters performed the song “Heidenröslein” (Heath Rose). The song is a poem of Goethe, composed by Schubert and Werner. A digest video of founder’s lecture titled “Goethe the Man” was screened, followed by explanation of the exhibits by Executive Vice President Ryohei Tanaka.

The exhibition and the opening ceremony were reported on several newspapers, including the Yomiuri Shimbun (Tama edition, morning newspaper), Mainichi Shimbun (Tama edition, morning newspaper), and Seikyo Shimbun on December 2. On December 11, 2023, the Hachioji City Superintendant of Education, Mr. Yasuma Hideshio, visited the exhibition and said, “These are the treasures of Hachioji city.”

Handwritten letters by Goethe, nine letters, 17 pages, 1819-1823 (replicas, released to the public for the first time in Japan)
The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1775, first edition, second printing
Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, 4 volumes, 1795-1796, first printing
The Complete Works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 61 volumes, 1827-1830, 1832-1842, first edition (pocket edition)