Hand-Crafted Bookshelf to Honor Taylor Anderson ‘08 Installed at McGraw-Page Library

News Story categories: Japanese Studies
Shinichi Endo crafts the Taylor Bunko inside the CPA scene shop

Randolph-Macon College proudly welcomed Japanese artists Shinichi Endo and Ryoko Endo to its campus for a week of events that culminated in the gift of a custom-crafted bookshelf to the McGraw-Page Library to honor the life of Taylor Anderson ’08.

Taylor Anderson was among the tens of thousands of casualties in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011. Her dream was to be a bridge between the United States and Japan, and she joined the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program to teach English in the seaside town of Ishinomaki after graduating from RMC with a bachelor’s degree in international studies. 

The Endos live in Ishinomaki and lost their three children, all of whom were students of Anderson, in the tsunami. In the wake of the disaster, Taylor’s parents, Andy and Jeanne Anderson, asked woodworking artist Shinichi Endo to make a bookshelf for Mangokuura Elementary School, where she taught.

Since 2011, Endo has crafted 29 unique Taylor Bunkos for schools across Japan, with the support of the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund. McGraw-Page Library’s Taylor Bunko is Endo’s 30th bunko, and first in the U.S.

Andy and Jeanne Anderson, Shinichi and Ryoko Endo, and President Robert Lindgren pose together after the dedication of the Taylor Bunko

“Thanks to the Andersons, I learned of a way that I could live on, by building bookshelves that preserve the memory of our children,” Endo said at the dedication of RMC’s Taylor Bunko through the translation of Mayumi Nakamura, RMC’s Director of International Education. “It helped me remember how my woodworking brought joy to our children and gave me a desire to create something to express people’s hearts in a tangible way through my work.”

Endo crafted the bookshelf in the scene shop of Randolph-Macon’s Center for the Performing Arts, with the help of RMC Japanese Studies students. The bookshelf was constructed with wood from both Japan and the U.S. and its distinct design features circular holes that let in symbolic rays of light.

Together, the Endos brought other crafts to Randolph-Macon as well. On Tuesday, Ryoko Endo hosted a workshop for students to make greeting cards with kimono fabric, as part of her Ishinomakimono project that supports women in the disaster-affected area with its proceeds. Students also crafted keychains from reclaimed tsunami debris on Thursday.

RMC's Japanese festival music team performs suzume odori at the dedication of the Taylor Bunko

At the dedication ceremony Friday evening, RMC President Robert R. Lindgren reflected on his own visit to Japan in 2017.

“What truly inspired us was the commitment we saw from individuals like the Endos, who like Andy and Jeanne, had suffered an unspeakable loss and yet somehow undertook to find the way through that numbing catastrophe and to build something positive in response,” Lindgren said.

The dedication ceremony closed with RMC’s Japanese festival music team performing suzume odori (sparrow dance), a traditional dance festival performed in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture. The students used authentic taiko drums, bamboo flutes, and folding fans during their performance.

The Taylor Bunko will be a resource for RMC students studying Japanese language and culture. It features books from the library’s existing collection and new books purchased with a grant from the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund.

“I think it shows how deep and strong the relationships have grown between Randolph-Macon and Ishinoamki, between us and the Endos,” Andy Anderson said of the Taylor Bunko being installed at RMC. “The fact that we can now have one here, it’s so beautiful. The students here will be inspired, I hope, like Taylor was inspired when she was here, to go to Japan and learn more about it.”