Yashiro (in Paris) to Mary Berenson

[letterhead:] Hotel Roosevelt/ 63 Av. d’Iena /Paris

Paris 10 Nov. 1923

Dear Mrs. Berenson,

Coming back from London I visited Mr. Berenson in his hotel yesterday. Though I had such a pleasure to see him, yet at the same time I was so disappointed to hear that you had gone from Paris already. It is such a delightful thing to greet friends in distant places, and besides I have not seen you for so long.

In London I began a long letter which I left unfinished and which I enclose herewith. In those days when I was quite upset by the bad news from my parents in Japan, in London I was really afraid of being alone, because I was really falling into melancholy feeling. So I occupied myself very very much in London. In the day time I was either in the museums or private galleries and in the evening, lest I should become a victim of depression, I even sought relief in stupid cinemas. I pitied myself doing so. That is the reason of my silence. Excuse me for that or rather pity me.

The letters I have since got in Paris reassured me as regards my mother and now I made up my mind to stay in Europe as I had planned before, that is, till next March. Indeed very frequently I am shaken in my determination, when I think of my mother, who, though quite safe, still must certainly lead a solitary life. But I must also think of my own work too, which, I am afraid, is to become the means to support her life, now that all her and my property is lost. I am so sorry for her to make her wait for me for half a year longer; I must make the most of this rare opportunity of staying in Europe, which, I know, would never come again easily. I think I shall go in these days to London where I shall perhaps try if I can have the chance to write and publish something. In this way perhaps I may get some recognition as a student of art; this will also come to facilitate that hope of mine of getting a position in some universities in America, of which you know. Besides I must improve my English, if I am to hope for any such position at all.

By the bye I heard nothing from Mr. Forbes of the Harvard. Since the time I met him in your house, once he invited me to tea at the time when I was away from Florence, and when I came back, he was about to leave Florence, so I missed the chance to see him again. From what I understood from him, when we talked together in your garden, he gave me just a vague hope. He told me that at present the Director of the Harvard had no intention to create the Department of the Oriental art: it is the idea and hope of Mr. Forbes to suggest to do so in future.

I think I shall go back to my Academy next Spring and shall take up my work there again which is a very good one in Japan. Only I shall always hope to get a position abroad, as my special interest lies in the comparative study of the Eastern & Western Arts and in Japan one gets absolutely no chance to study the Western art in the original. Such being the case I am not very much in a hurry to seek a place in America, but if ever there is any, I shall always be too glad to get it, if only my Academy or Government allows it. So I wish you would remember this constant wish of mine and if you come to know of any such place, I beseech you to recommend me to it. By the time I shall be studying on my own way, as best as I can; and shall try to write some of my studies in English. If I have some of my studies published in some of European languages, I shall get myself known in Europe & America to a certain extent and appreciated or depreciated as I am worth. As regards the official recommendation, I must say I have one of the best, because, this I can well say without exaggeration or boasting, that my Academy in Tokio is the only Governmental Academy of Art in Japan (and there is no other Academies noteworthy in Japan, both publicly or privately built) and therefore the professors there are considered rather important personages in the artistic world. If I think of my own knowledge, I am very ashamed to say this, but that is true and everybody knows it. I was severely attacked (myself and the Director) when I was appointed a professor there. They said I was “too young” for that position.

Ever since you were so kind as to introduce me to Mr. Forbes, and also willing to help me in many other things, I wanted very much to explain myself to you. But somehow I had no chance. Would you excuse me if I went beyond the limit of modesty? This I can well say: I am not sure if really I deserve to be a professor in my Academy, but I have ever endeavored to deserve it. Also in my future, you can rest assured that I will make my best to deserve your recommendation.

In Paris Mr. B.B. referred me to your friend M. S. Reinach; I have ever been indebted to him through his books from the very first of my study of European Art -- more precisely, more at the very first than now, because the first book I read of European art was his Apollo. I am delighted to make his acquaintance. I am going to London in a couple of days. If there is any of your friend in London to whom I can apply for help to see private collections, or who can help me in my studies as M. Reinach would, I hope, do refer me to him. Of course I know Mr. Laurence Binyon so well.

I was told that you are going to Rome for January & February. Perhaps I may see you in that beautiful city of the world, unless I don’t go back to Florence before. When I think of your Library and of the many happy days I had there, I almost suffer from home-sickness for Florence and I Tatti. I am daily going to the Bibliotheque Nationale. As I have by this time been, if I may say so, spoiled by the abundant facilities for studies in your Library, in every respect I have reasons to complain in this big library. I could not even find “Jahrbuch der preussiche Kunstsammlung” here.

This letter has become such a long one, and besides it is written so badly. Perhaps it is too long to re-write it. So let me beg your pardon over and over again.

You told me one afternoon how I must try to improve my English. I shall ever follow your advice, especially in London where I shall begin to write something.

You did quite well to have already left Paris. Since yesterday it has become cuttingly cold. I know you are frequently not quite well. I am anxious of your health, as about that of my own mamma. For didn’t you helped me and protected me with a real motherly tenderness. At least so I felt and am very grateful. My letter is interminable. I must make the end of the paper the end of the letter.

Yours ever, 

Y. Yashiro