“Life is full of follies” However . . .
The principal he refers to was probably Meiji Gakuin’s second president, Kajinosuke Ibuka. With Ibuka’s permission, Sasaki transferred to the College of Meiji Gakuin and studied here for two years. Kuni Sasaki’s time at Meiji Gakuin was fruitful, as he learned a great deal from his foreign teachers and the principal, with whom he was in close contact, as well as from the teachings of the Bible. Indeed, in the words of his protagonist Maruo, “I was full of recollections and gratitude” regarding the slightly less than a year he spent as a research student and his time living in the dormitory, as was the custom for mission schools at that time. The cordial world of the numerous humorous novels he published during his long career as an English teacher at his alma mater Meiji Gakuin truly was fostered in this environment. If Kuni Sasaki had not encountered Meiji Gakuin, he would undoubtedly never have built the unique world of his novels. Sasaki recounted his memories of Meiji Gakuin not only in the form of novels, but also in essays, writing that “I am proud to have studied at Meiji Gakuin.” He also described how once, in a car on his way home from a lecture to which he had been invited, he happened to go down a street beside Meiji Gakuin: “I was filled with an indescribable feeling of nostalgia . . . As we passed, I doffed my hat and bowed my head.”
Sasaki liked to say, “life is full of follies.” However, he never said it with a sense of resignation, sarcasm, or ridicule. Rather, those words betray his profound understanding of and affection for the humans who commit those follies and were intended to encourage us to keep moving forward toward the future.
In 1963, the year after retiring from his post as professor at Meiji Gakuin University, Sasaki was baptized at the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican/Episcopal Church in Japan) Holy Trinity Church, Tokyo. He was 80 years old. It was as if he was preparing for the final journey that he could see approaching. The following year, on September 22, 1964, Kuni Sasaki was called home by God, his life’s work complete.