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The Souvenir at the Walters

Just home from Baltimore, where I joined museum director Gary Vikan for a conversation about "The Souvenir" at the Walters Art Museum. The museum brought me out in conjunction with a beautiful Japanese art show, delicate cloisonne vases with koi and egrets, pheasants and wisteria. Gary and I discussed the Occupation of Japan, and he noted how surprised he was to learn that the first museum art show in America of Japanese art was not until 1953. When my father went ashore in Wakayama Harbor, he was entering a country, a culture... about which he knew very little, and against which he was deeply prejudiced.

But my father liked what he saw. He even wrote to my mother that he thought the idea of taking off one's shoes before entering a house was a great idea.

One woman in the audience offered the following insight: "At first, I thought your father must have preserved the letters hoping that you would find them. After listening to you, I think your father kept them as a reminder of who he was."
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