TOKYO - A book apparently signed by Helen Keller (1880-1968) was found among volumes sold in a bundle at a secondhand book fair in Tokyo last autumn.
It is believed that Keller, an American who devoted herself to social welfare activities despite having lost her vision and hearing as a child, signed the book when she visited Japan for the first time in 1937.
Keller visited Japan on three occasions. It is rare for her autograph to be newly discovered in Japan, according to one source.
The book was found among about 20 education-related books that were bought as a set at auction at a secondhand book fair in Tokyo. Keller's autograph was written on a page facing the book's title, "Idainaru Kyoshi Sariban" (Great teacher Sullivan). The book about Keller's private teacher, Anne Sullivan, was translated into Japanese by Takeo Iwahashi, a social worker who had invited Keller to Japan, and others.
The date written with her autograph, which was addressed to "Prof. Sugimoto," was May 28, 1937. Keller's name was written under an illustration and a message that were believed to have been done by Iwahashi.
According to Nippon Lighthouse, an Osaka, Japan-based social welfare corporation established by Iwahashi that keeps documents related to Keller, the distinctive style of the signature closely resembles the signature in a letter sent by Keller to Iwahashi.
The written date was the day when Keller visited Fukuoka, Japan. It is believed the book was given to Katsuji Sugimoto, who was the dean of Seinan Gakuin high school (currently Seinan Gakuin University), when she visited the school, judging from a newspaper article at that time.
"I'm sure the signature is genuine. Though Keller was unable to write whole sentences, she could write her signature," said Makiko Hayase, of the corporation.
The autograph is scheduled to be exhibited in a secondhand book fair at Matsuya Ginza department store in Tokyo beginning Wednesday.