Geoffrey Bownas was born in 1923; he read Greats and Chinese at Oxford and in 1952-4 studied with Professor Kaizuka Shigeki in Kyoto University. He established Oxford's Department of Japanese Studies in 1954, then became Sheffield University's Founding Professor of Japanese Studies in 1966, pioneering the combination of the study of Japanese with social sciences. His publications include Japanese Rainmaking and Other Folk Practices, New Writing in Japan with Mishima Yukio, Doing Business with the Japanese with David Powers and Christopher Hood and Japanese Journeys, Writings and Recolllections of a half century of direct involvement with Japan.
Anthony Thwaite was born in 1930. After leaving Oxford in 1955 he went to Tokyo University where he taught English Literature until 1957. He has frequently revisited Japan, holding a Japan Foundation Fellowship in 1985-6, taking up a travelling scholarship in 1989, and going to Japan on various lectures and tours over the years, most recently in 2005. He has taught in Universities in Britain, the U.S.A., Libya and elsewhere. He has published seventeen books of poems, most recently Collected Poems (2007), holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Hull and East Anglia, and was awarded an OBE for services to poetry in 1990.