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The Lewis Legacy-Issue 85, Summer 2000

Land of The Rising Sun: Japan and C. S. Lewis

The national symbol of Japan happened to be an important symbol to C. S. Lewis. In the last paragraph of The Great Divorce (1946) he wrote about the ultimate sunrise — “the rim of the sunrise that shoots Time dead with golden arrows and puts to flight all phantasmal shapes.” (See also the ending of Till We Have Faces.)
On December 17,1955, Lewis wrote to an old friend that he was pleased by the Christmas card the man had sent him, a Japanese-style nativity scene.

Lewis books are so well loved in Japan that in 1985 forty people attended the first meeting of the C. S. Lewis Society of Tokyo. The Narnian Chronicles are recommended by Japan’s Department of Education. The Lewis Legacy has a subscriber in Japan. There are twenty-five articles and dissertations about Lewis in Japanese so far, and four books:

1. The Narnian World Is Not Far from Us (1981) by Bou Yagyu (younger brother of Naoyuki Yagyu)

2. The Theology of Elfland; C. S. Lewis, the Man and His Works (1984) by Naoyuki Yagyu (See p. 20.)

3. The World of C. S. Lewis (1988) by Kazumi Yamagata (a collection of essays)

4. A Reader’s Guide to the Chronicles of Narnia (1988), ed. Kazumi Yamagata and Kazuo Takeno

In 1999 University Press of America published The Imaginative World of C. S. Lewis: A Way To Participate in Reality by Mineko Honda, a professor of English at Nishogakusha University. This is the first Japanese book about Lewis written in English, and an excellent addition to Lewis studies. Among other things, Honda analyzes Lewis’s view of imagination as a vehicle of truth in contrast to Coleridge’s, focusing on The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces.