By Michael Steinbach
It was on a sunny early winter day in Tokyo, when the official funeral of Mitsuo Nitta, former CEO of Yushodo Yushodo Co., Ltd. and ILAB Member of Honor took place at Gokoku-ji Temple located in Bunkyo-ku, the area where he lived for most of his live.
The ceremony was held in a special room of the temple, and large tents where pitched outside to provide temporary relief from the cold winds for the mourners. A picture of Mitsuo Nitta was erected high on the altar in the middle of the main room, surrounded by a sea of white Chrysanthemum, it was truly a breathtaking sight.
The funeral began solemnly with a mesmerizingly deep and continuous recitation of the sutra by a priest and a number of monks seated below the altar. Several eulogies were given after the recitation, two of which I would like to highlight below to show what Mitsuo Nitta meant to his friends and colleagues:
‘The unfortunate news of your sudden departure came to us as a total surprise. You have been the most energetic person in our group and always entertained us with your hospitality for over 42 years. In 2010 when Yushodo joined our Dai Nippon Printing group, we started a business that was totally new to us both and I deeply appreciate the contributions that you made over the years.
When I heard that you were admitted to the hospital for check-ups, I simply thought them to be routine. On the 27th of Oct., upon receiving the news that you were in a critical condition, I hurried to the hospital. You grabbed me by my hands and said a few words in my direction. “The rest is up to you” I thought I heard you say. Our nearly half-a-decade friendship is full of good memories and will last forever. (President of Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd.)’
‘He probably knew his end was near. I think it was on our way home from some function, when he casually mentioned to me, like it was nothing serious at all, how his stomach has swollen from ascetics and how he planned to have the fluid removed at the hospital. “We are over 82 years old”, he added, “We’ve lived long enough, don’t you agree?” and laughed.
At a surprise visit at my office we talked about the company and what concerned us both was how we were to pass this company on to the next generation. After our brief conversation, we shook hands and he left. Thinking back, I now realize that this was his way of saying good-bye.
I will never forget your kindness and the warmth of your hands I felt that day. I have a feeling that it won’t be too long before we meet again, and so I bid you a short farewell, Nitta-san. SAYONARA. Don’t worry. Everything will be just fine.’ (CEO of Toshokan Ryutsu Cnter Co. Ltd.).
While I do not understand Japanese, I found the speeches deeply moving in the way they spoke and could not help but to commiserate with the feelings they shared with Mitsuo Nitta.
The mourners then lined up to offer incense while the priest recited the sutra in the background. Over 800 people attended and offered incense along with their thoughts to Mitsuo Nitta.
With this ceremony one of our most significant members of the Antiquarian Book Trade left the ‘stage’. For all those who knew him, he will remain always as a helpful, generous and inspiring colleague. Yushodo Antiquarian Book Department will continue its work in the spirit of Mitsuo Nitta.
In Memory of Mitsuo Nitta – Book of Condolences
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