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Rare books of Okura Collection come back to China

Peking University, May 6, 2014: The exhibition of rare books from Okura Museum of Art was launched in Peking University Library. Okura Yoshihiko, the legal person of Okura Cultural Consortium along with other Japanese delegates came to PKU Library.

Liu Wei, executive vice president of PKU, and Chinese scholars from related branches of study attended the exhibition. After the opening ceremony, more than one hundred experts and scholars in the field of library and journalists visited the exhibition. 

The greeting speech from Executive Vice President Liu Wei

The rare books on display have their cultural root in China. At the beginning of 20th century, the Chinese bibliophile Dong Kang, in order to resolve a financial crisis, sold part of his collection to his Japanese friend, the founder of Okura Cultural Consortium — Okura Kihachiro.

It has been about a century since the collection was sold, during which period the foundation continued to expand the scale of the collection and built it as "Okura Collection".

In 2005, in order to raise money for collecting cultural relics in Japan, Okura decided to sell this collection at the price of 1.8 billion yen.

From 2005 to 2012, many collection agencies, enterprises, even individuals negotiated with Okura Consortium for the purchase of "Okura Collection". But either because of money shortage or failing to meet the preservation requirements, the deal kept unclosed until PKU entered the contest list.

In 2012, PKU Library decided to purchase "Okura Collection".

The ribbon-cutting ceremony

With the support from PKU Council Chairman Zhu Shanlu, this purchase plan got the attention of the central leadership.

The Ministry of Education, cooperating jointly with the Ministry of Finance, appropriated money to cover 50 percent of the purchase bill, which resolved the issue of funding.

This is the first time that China had repurchased its own collections in such a large quantity from overseas. This purchase includes 931 kinds of books and the total number is 28143 volumes. All these rare treasures will proof their great cultural and academic value in the future days.

At present, the whole collection is preserved in the Rare Book Library of PKU Library for teaching and academic research along with other documents. And PKU Library will dedicate to sort out and publish the books in its collection, so the academic resources within this big repository can be shared and benefit the public.

Written by: Chen Runxi
Edited by: Li Wenrui
Source: PKU Library