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  • Ảnh của tác giảNguyễn Ngọc Phóng

Nisimura Masanari - Awakening the Land of Kim Lan

Đã cập nhật: 4 thg 7, 2023


Nisimura Masanari, a dedicated archaeologist, played a pivotal role in awakening the rich history of Kim Lan, a village in Vietnam. Through extensive excavations and meticulous research, he uncovered ancient artifacts and revealed the village's deep cultural roots, spanning thousands of years.
Dr Nishimura Masanari và Kim Lan Villagers ( Mrs Hợp (Sinh) - Mrs Hồng (Canh) - Mrs Tỉn - Mr Ni-Shi - Mrs Cúc - Mrs Năm (Mơ ).
Dr Nishimura Masanari và Kim Lan Villagers ( Mrs Hợp (Sinh) - Mrs Hồng (Canh) - Mrs Tỉn - Mr Ni-Shi - Mrs Cúc - Mrs Năm (Mơ ).

Dr. Nishimura Masanari, a prominent figure in unearthing the ancient village of Kim Lan, made significant contributions in discovering Kiên Nam as an ancient village through excavated artifacts. He collaborated with Vietnamese scientists and demonstrated that Kim Lan was the origin and nurturing ground of traditional pottery for thousands of years.


During his archaeological exploration, Dr. Nishimura actively participated in guiding the collection and excavation methods, artifact classification, dating techniques, and numbering systems. He used non-fading writing utensils to label and store the unearthed relics.

Dr. Nishimura also provided the "Returning to the Origins" group with ample reference materials for cross-referencing and examining the self-inserted ancient coins to determine their respective historical periods.


As a cultural anthropologist at the University of Tokyo in 1990, Dr. Nishimura visited Vietnam as part of a collaboration between Japanese and Vietnamese archaeology. Over the course of more than 20 years, he extensively traveled across the country, dedicating his efforts to research and contribute to the heritage of Vietnamese culture. Sadly, Dr. Nishimura Masanari passed away on June 9, 2013, in a traffic accident while riding a motorcycle to conduct field research in Bac Ninh.


Dr. Nishimura Masanari - taken by: Ngô Vương Anh
Dr. Nishimura Masanari - taken by: Ngô Vương Anh


Dr. Nishimura Masanari's passion materialized when he built a pottery museum for Kim Lan. Through his architectural designs, exhibited artifacts, and the arrangement of historical processes, he left an indelible mark within the museum. His contributions resulted in the establishment of the Kim Lan Pottery Museum, where visitors can explore and learn about the thousand-year history of the land.

In Kim Lan, Dr. Nishimura, also known as Lý Văn Sỹ, is a name deeply embedded in the memories of the local residents. No one can forget the image of this Japanese scientist covered in mud from head to toe during excavation work. Dr. Nishimura enthusiastically interacted with the locals, conversing fluently in Vietnamese and sitting down with them to rest and enjoy traditional meals. He blended in naturally, as if he were born there. When participating in the Kim Nam pottery competition, officially recognized as the preservation of ancient ceramics at the Ham Rong site, Dr. Nishimura's relationship with the people of Kim Lan became as close as kin. After marrying his Vietnamese wife, Mr. and Mrs. Lysimuralorico, both researchers in Vietnamese culture, considered themselves part of the Kim Lan community, constantly exploring and discovering its heritage.


The people of Kim Lan take great pride in their association with Nishi. Many share stories about him, such as when he attended an international seminar and proudly introduced himself as Lý Văn Sỹ from Vietnam. Although there were many archaeologists studying Kim Lan, none resembled Nishi. The locals used to think that archaeologists wore colorful clothing and gave instructions while the workers conducted the excavations. Nishi broke that stereotype and worked shoulder to shoulder with the people of Kim Lan. They fondly remember the time when they treated Nishi to a satisfying meal with rustic dishes. Mr. Nguyen Van Nhung vividly recalls those moments.


Recognizing the importance of showcasing the values of Kim Lan artifacts to the public, the "Returning to the Origins" group proposed the construction of a small museum. However, the biggest challenge was funding, as Nishi, being a scientist, had limited financial resources. He embarked on a campaign, reaching out to his Japanese entrepreneur friends for support. In March 2012, a total of 30,000 USD was raised for the Kim Lan community. The Community Archaeological Museum was inaugurated, with Dr. Nishimura personally involved in designing the museum building and wrote detailed explanations and dating assessments for each artifact displayed in the museum.


In August 2013, the "Returning to the Origins" group and Dr. Nishimura Masanari were honored with the Bui Xuan Phai Award for their love for Hanoi and their contributions to the community. Unfortunately, Dr. Nishimura was not present to receive the award as he had tragically passed away in a traffic accident two months earlier. Despite this loss, his family made the decision to continue his legacy in Vietnam, particularly in the village of Kim Lan, which he considered his second homeland. Both his scientific colleagues and the people of Kim Lan believed that he deserved proper recognition for his 20 years of dedicated research and immense love for Vietnam.


Although Dr. Nishimura Masanari is no longer among us, his archaeological studies on Vietnam will continue through his colleagues, students, and dedicated friends. The love he had for the country and the people of Kim Lan has manifested in various research projects and scientific contributions to Vietnamese archaeology. The Kim Lan Pottery Museum stands as a testament to his passion and efforts.


The people of Kim Lan still hold deep admiration for Dr. Nishimura. Many anecdotes and stories circulate among them, reminding them of the time he attended an international conference. When asked, "Who are you?" Nishimura proudly replied, "I am Lý Văn Sỹ. I come from Vietnam." Despite the existence of numerous archaeologists studying Kim Lan, none of them embodied the same qualities as Nishimura. Both the locals and the scientific community had the perception that archaeologists wore brightly colored clothes and gave directions while the laborers conducted the actual excavations. However, Nishimura shattered these stereotypes and actively participated in the physical labor alongside the people of Kim Lan. This dedication and integration into the local community further solidified his bond with the land and its heritage.


The people of Kim Lan treasure the memories of their interactions with Dr. Nishimura. They recall how they shared their unique customs, such as the phrase "vo gao bang ro, mo ca bang gai" (winnowing rice with a basket, gutting fish with thorns). These customs originated from a time when food was scarce, and small fish required creative preparation due to the lack of ingredients. The locals had not prepared these dishes in many decades, but they wanted to offer Nishimura a feast featuring these traditional delicacies. Mr. Nguyen Van Nhung fondly reminisces about that memorable occasion.


Dr. Nishimura recognized the need to introduce the cultural treasures of Kim Lan to the public, and thus, the "Returning to the Origins" group proposed the construction of a small museum. Despite financial constraints, Nishimura, as a scientist, actively campaigned for support from his Japanese entrepreneur friends. In March 2012, a total of 30,000 USD was raised to fund the Community Archaeological Museum. Dr. Nishimura not only designed the museum building but also personally wrote the introduction and dating assessments for each artifact displayed.


Takenori-sponsor-for-kim-lan-ceramic museum
Mr Takenori-sponsor for Kim Lan ceramic museum


While it is regrettable that Dr. Nishimura Masanari could not attend the award ceremony and witness the completion of the museum, his family decided to continue his work in Vietnam, particularly in the village he considered his second home, Kim Lan. His scientific colleagues, students, and passionate friends, like the "Returning to the Origins" group, are committed to honoring his 20 years of research and his profound love for Vietnam. The achievements of Dr. Nishimura have crystallized into significant contributions to Vietnamese archaeology, with the Kim Lan Pottery Museum serving as a tangible example of his legacy.


The Kim Lan Pottery Museum stands proudly, showcasing the rich history and cultural heritage of the region. Every aspect of the museum, from its architectural design to the arrangement of artifacts, reflects Dr. Nishimura's meticulous attention to detail and deep understanding of historical processes. The museum not only houses valuable relics but also serves as a place for visitors to explore and learn about the thousand-year-old land.


Friends-of-nishimura : Mr Matsumoto and Mrs Mariko ; taken by Ly Giang photographer.
Friends-of-nishimura : Mr Matsumoto and Mrs Mariko ; taken by Ly Giang photographer.

Dr. Nishimura's dedication to Kim Lan was profound, and he considered it his second homeland. His bond with the people of Kim Lan was extraordinary, transcending cultural and language barriers. The locals fondly remember him as "Ni-si," a Japanese researcher with the surname Lý (Lý Văn Sỹ in Vietnamese). The image of Dr. Nishimura, covered in mud from head to toe during excavations, remains vivid in their memories. He would immerse himself in conversations with the people of Kim Lan, sharing their resting breaks and enjoying simple meals together. His genuine and humble demeanor made him feel like a native of the village, and his commitment to exploring and discovering alongside the locals forged an unbreakable bond.


The people of Kim Lan take great pride in the fact that Dr. Nishimura considered it his second home. They often recount stories from the time he attended an international conference abroad. When asked about his identity, he proudly proclaimed, "I am Lý Văn Sỹ. I come from Vietnam." Such a statement resonates deeply with the locals, as it demonstrates the immense impact Dr. Nishimura had on their lives and their shared heritage.


Despite his untimely passing, Dr. Nishimura's influence lives on through his research and the projects he initiated. The passion he had for Vietnam and his unwavering commitment to archaeological exploration continue to inspire his colleagues, students, and fellow enthusiasts. The "Returning to the Origins" group and other dedicated individuals, driven by the same love for the country, carry the torch of his work. They strive to build upon his foundation, ensuring that his studies on Vietnamese archaeology endure.


The legacy of Dr. Nishimura Masanari goes beyond the boundaries of time and place. His contributions to Kim Lan and Vietnamese archaeology are imprinted in the memories of those who knew him and in the valuable knowledge he left behind. The Kim Lan Pottery Museum stands as a testament to his vision and unwavering dedication. It serves as a gateway for visitors to delve into the rich history and cultural heritage of Kim Lan, a land awakened by the efforts of Dr. Nishimura Masanari.

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