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23rd August marks the beginning of the 7th edition of the "Heritage of Borderlands" seminary.

A group of people pose for a photo. Neptune's Fountain in Gdansk in the background.

For over 15 years, the International Culture Centre, first in collaboration with the Tokyo European Union Institute in Japan, and now with the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, has been organizing bi-annually touring scientific seminars for Japanese scholars of Middle Europe history and culture.


This project was initialised by Professor Jacek Purchla, ICC director from 1991-2017, and Prof. Tokimasa Sekiguchi, one of the most prominent translators of Polish literature into Japanese. The first three seminars were dedicated to the cultural heritage of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and were held in Poland and Ukraine (2008), Lithuania (2010), and Belarus (2012). The following editions focused more broadly on the phenomenon of borderlands and the multicultural nature of Middle Europe. They were held in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary (2014), Czechia and Germany (Silesia, 2016), Czechia and Slovakia (2018).


Those seminars are addressed to researchers of Middle-Europe history and culture, with a strong accent put on Poland. Participants represent different fields of knowledge (eg. history, history of art and literature, linguistics), and are employees of renowned Japanese universities. Attending seminars allows you to deepen your knowledge about the heritage and history of Poland and Middle Europe, to better understand the historical and cultural context of the events and actions specific to our part of the continent. It is also an opportunity to make new connections. A crucial part of it is not sightseeing though, but meetings and discussions with the representatives of local cultural and scholar institutes, and non-governmental organizations. The participants can use the effects of seminars in their teachings and research. Many of them attended the seminars multiple times, which proves the need for it and the significance of making available the Middle-Europe history and heritage to scholars in the Land of the Rising Sun. Their unique result is also the translations of Polish literature into Japanese. One of them gave life to the first translation of Adam Mickiewicz’s "Ballady i romanse" by Prof. Tokimasa Sekiguchi, the laureate of the Transatlantic Prize.


This year's edition was held in Pomorze, Warmia and Mazury. The rich plan included the following cities and towns: Gdańsk, Gdynia, Malbork, Pelplin, Elbląg, Lidzbark Warmiński, Olsztyn, Kętrzyn, and many more.


Topics of discussion included the following:

  • the place of Gdańsk in the Middle-Europe civilization and culture, with the emphasis on the European Heritage Label – The Gdańsk Shipyard and "Solidarność" movement;
  • multicultural, literary Gdańsk;
  • Gdynia and its modernism;
  • Żuławy, Mennonite, and cultural heritage of the Teutonic Order;
  • Warmia and Nicolas Copernicus;
  • the troublesome heritage of the 3rd Reich.


This program would not be possible without the support, help, and hospitality of many people and institutions. We are particularly very grateful to the city of Gdańsk and Gdańsk Museum.

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