Japanese sculptor visiting W&J this week

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Akatsuki Harada, an internationally known Japanese wood sculptor from Samukawa, Japan, is visiting Washington & Jefferson College this week, finishing work on his camphor wood sculpture, a gift from the people of Samukawa and the Samukawa International Exchange Association in honor of the 32-year bond of friendship established by retiring professor of sociology Edward Greb with Japan.


Harada, unable to capture a satisfying 3-D likeness of Greb working only from a photo, traveled to Washington to finish the section of the sculpture that depicts Greb’s image.


The sculpture features the Japanese Kanji character for “bond” in the center to reflect the mutual friendship between Greb, W&J and the people of Samukawa and Washington. Upon completion, the sculpture will be placed on permanent display in Old Main.


The sculpture was presented to the college last October at a dinner honoring Greb. The reception was hosted by JapanTrac, the consulting firm which has assisted Greb in planning and implementing his educational tours to Japan since 1987.


Harada, whose works are displayed in 13 countries, specializes in installation art and outdoor sculptures which celebrate nature themes. His philosophy includes the concept that art, like music, provides a form of communication soul to soul that transcends language or culture.


“Even though we cannot understand each other using language, still, we can find one another’s abilities by producing something together. We use the mind to think of each other and the spirit to understand each other. If we could find common ideas from many differences, that could be a vehicle for peace,” Harada said.


Greb, who has spent 39 years at W&J, taught sociology courses on Japan at the college and has taken nearly 200 W&J students to Japan on tours since 1987. The students visit Samukawa, Japan, Harada’s hometown, for a long weekend with home stay hosts at the time of Adult’s Day, which celebrates the coming of age of 20-year-olds.


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