Friday, July 17, 2009

Rampo House

Strange things happen when you're strange....

(Front of the house. Curator's shack is to the right from here.)

Back last Christmas, I requested some books by Edogawa Rampo, as a way to learn more about the local culture and literary history in order to discuss it with my English students. I reviewed the two books I received as Christmas presents ("Tales of Mystery and Imagination", and "The Black Lizard") as well as commenting on a movie that came out shortly after based on Rampo's detective character("K-20")

(Back of the house.)

Time passes, as time has a tendency to do from time to time, and I suddenly receive an e-mail from the curator at the Poe House and Museum, dedicated to Edgar Allen Poe. The Poe Bicentennial is coming up on October 9, and the curator had been in Japan recently. During his interview with a Japanese mystery magazine, he'd described how he was planning on having "eulogies" at Poe's "funeral" given by various famous writers that had been influenced by Poe, such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Hemingway. The magazine editors asked if he was going to include Edogawa Rampo, who'd taken his name from the Japanese pronunciation of Edgar Allen Poe. The curator then decided to do a net search, and my name came up in the results.

(Display area at the back of the house.)

Surprisingly, there's not a lot of real information in Japanese on the net about Rampo's comments regarding Poe, much less anything in English. There is the "Rampo Reader", a collection of some of Rampo's literary commentaries, which came out in English in 2008, but I can't find a copy in Tokyo. According to the index, there's a comparison between Dickens and Poe in one chapter, but I don't know the full details.

(Map of the Rikkyu University grounds showing Rampo's house at the lower part.)

It seems that the house Rampo was born in, near Osaka, I guess, is dilapidated and collapsing. Fortunately, later on he did move to Tokyo and lived in a house that's on the grounds of the Rikkyo University about 1 kilometer west of the JR Ikebukuro station. The house can be visited by the public from 10:30-noon and 1-4 PM on Fridays, but you're only allowed to stand outside and look in. If the doors at the back are closed, go around to the little shed to the right at the front of the house and call out "sumimasen". One of the researchers will come out and open the doors for you to look through.

(Inside the living room.)

I asked the researcher at the Rampo House about Rampo's comments about Poe and he didn't know of anything. So, overall I came up empty. But, I at least got to look inside Rampo's house, which looks nice, warm and cozy during the winter. Might be a bit stifling during the summer, prior to air conditioning, though. A wonderful place for coming up with new nightmares and ways to kill people. I'd be careful of the big chair in the back of the room if I were you.

(Owls directing you to Rampo House.)

(Close-up of the second display case area at the back of the house.)

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