Poetry recital in memory of the life and work of Father Dr Vladimir Kos
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of relations between Slovenia and Japan on December 15 2022 Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Tokyo organised a poetry recital for Slovenians and friends of Slovenia in memory of the life and work of Father Dr Vladimir Kos.
In the introduction to the recital, the Chargé d'affaires ad interim, Tina Vodnik, presented the life and cooperation of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Tokyo with Fr Kos. Father Kos was the longest living Slovenian in Japan, and that is since 1956. He came to Japan as a Jesuit missionary because the country needed volunteers after the Second World War.
He was a professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, where he first taught English and German, and then philosophy and Latin. Describing his daily life, he said: "In the morning, I have lived in a highly intellectual environment. The rest of my time I have spent with rag and waste pickers. Half of my office at the University was a warehouse, full of clothes and other things I distributed to the poor people and orphans."
Pater Kos was an important member of the Slovenian community in Japan and made a visible contribution to the strong relations and friendship between the two countries. He passed away in July this year, in the year, on which we celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Slovenia and Japan.
Father Kos enjoyed attending meetings of Slovenians organised by the Embassy and the Slovenian-Japanese Friendship Group. His poetry was always present at the Embassy's celebrations of the Slovenian Cultural Day. At the age of 96, at the request of the Embassy, he wrote a touching poem on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's statehood, entitled My Passport.
In 2004, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, awarded him the Golden Order of Merit for his literary opus, his contribution to Slovenian culture and language in the world, and his philanthropic deeds. Ten years later, he was awarded the Prešeren Fund Prize for his two collections of poetry, Poems from the Japanese Islands and At the Slightly Trembling Tokyo Harp. In the prize's justification, he was described as "the greatest poet of emigration".
The participants were also addressed by Jelisava Dobovšek Sethna, President of the Slovenian-Japanese Friendship Association, who remembered father Kos as a warm and compassionate man who always knew how to console with the right word. Father Robert Chiesa, who worked with father Kos for several decades, also presented the life of father Kos at the event.
Poems of father Kos were read by the Embassy staff, students of the Centre for Slovenian as a Second and Foreign Language in Japan and Mrs Moira Franzutti Langlois, a Slovenian living in Japan.
We read two tanka and the following poems:
Yes, One Morning
About the Pink Camellia
It snows, it snows even on Tokyo
The ever-smiling face of Fr Kos and the poetry of his gentle words will remain in the eternal memory of all present.