So few teaching opportunities existed for a young Japan scholar in late 1940s America that a professor suggested he teach Greek instead.
Donald Keene persevered, arriving in the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto in 1953 to do research.
“I was extremely lucky, because the time that I was there was a golden age of Japanese literature,” he says. “People didn’t speak of it at the time, they all said there’s nothing much to read and that sort of thing, but in retrospect we can say this was one of the great periods of Japanese literature. All the famous writers, not only people known because of their previous work, were writing.”