Mori Ōgai Memorial Center, Berlin

Mori Ogai Memorial Center, Berlin (Image: H.Salomon)

The Mori Ōgai Memorial Center promotes knowledge of the Japanese physician, writer, and translator Mori Ōgai and conducts research on his life and works as well as on »his time« in history. Thus, encounters between Japan and Europe in the fields of culture, knowledge, and science from the second half of the 19th century on are key interests of our institution, treated in scholarly projects, exhibitions, publications and events such as lectures and workshops.

The center was founded in 1984 at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin because the Alma mater Berolinensis fulfilled an important function for Japan’s transition to modernity. Like young Mori, a large number of the 2,700 Japanese that studied at institutions in the German-speaking area,were enrolled in Berlin. After their return to the island country, many of these pioneers of »modern« knowledge served in influential positions in academia and education, administration, culture, politics, and science.

The Mori Ōgai Memorial Center belongs to the Institute for Asian and African Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and is a member institution of the Association for Literary Societies and Museums in Germany. Located in the first floor of the building where Mori first lived during his stay in Berlin (bounded by the intersection of Luisenstraße and Marienstraße), the center’s main collection comprises about 2,000 books and numerous academic articles, newspaper clippings, and archival materials. In the reference library, all of Mori’s original works are available in Japanese and – where available – in Western translations. Moreover, studies on his life and works and a selection of monographs focusing on the context of European–Japanese relations can be used for study purposes.

Another central objective is to introduce the works of the genius loci who drew inspiration from experiences between the regions and between the disciplines, to a wider reading public and to comparative research. The publicly accessible permanent exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to experience Mori’s life with an emphasis on his stay in Berlin. Letters, first editions of his publications, and other collection objects provide insights into his thoughts and works. In the Ōgai Memorial Room, which is decorated with furniture and accessories of the 1880s, the atmosphere of the young student’s engagement with the world of European art, history, literature, philosophy, and science is recreated. The event space houses temporary exhibitions on European-Japanese encounters in past and present, and serves as venue for lectures and readings.