Campus News

Oberlin College Libraries Receives Gift of Sato Collection of Japanese Literature

September 10, 2021

Communications Staff

A library display case of the Sato book donation.
A display case featuring covers from the Sato book donation.
Photo credit: Oberlin College Libraries

The Oberlin College Libraries has received a gift from Nancy Rossiter ’67 and Hiroaki Sato of the Sato family's literature collection, which consists of 40 hardcover and 39 softcover Japanese language monographs and one cassette tape. The collection ranges from important Japanese classics to modern Japanese literature.  

Because of their genoristy, students and faculty will have access to this distinctive collection of Japanese books through the Oberlin College Libraries, says Professor of East Asian Studies Ann Sherif.

“The books reveal the research and reading essential to the influential career of Hiroaki Sato, poet and renowned translator of more than 25 volumes of Japanese poetry and prose fiction," Sherif says. "For more than half a century, Sato’s engaging translations have introduced English-speaking readers to the richness of Japan’s literary heritage, from Basho’s beloved haiku and poetic travel journals, Mishima Yukio’s controversial modern fiction and Noh plays, and the Chinese verse of Ema Saikō, one of the few known early 19th century woman poets, along with the classical canon of Japanese waka poetry.”

Assistant Professor of East Asian Religions Andrew Macomber says the Sato donation greatly expands the library's collection of offerings in modern Japanese literature, especially into the life and work of Yukio Mishima. "Of personal interest for my research on Japanese medical history, the gift also includes an important edition of the diary of Fujiwara Teika (1162–1241), an aristocrat who not only got sick frequently but also—thankfully for historians—loved to write about it. I'm excited students will be able to make use of these materials in their own research.”

Rossiter majored in art history and subsequently worked in the art world in a number of roles, including as a printmaker and a design assistant. After moving to New York, she completed a master’s degree at Hunter College. She paints regularly and is an art gallery enthusiast.  

Sato was born in Taiwan to Japanese parents. He attended Doshisha University in Kyoto, receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature. He moved to the United States in 1968, and worked for the Japan External Trade Organization for 44 years. He is one of the leading translators of Japanese literature into English and the winner of many awards, including the PEN Translation Prize. He has has published more than 50 books, mainly translations of Japanese poetry and prose.

Rossiter and Sato have worked together on a number of books, most recently So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms: Haiku from the Year of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami (Red Moon Press, 2014). They currently live in New York City. 

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