In October 1900 Awa Maru arrived at Kobe after a 45 days voyage. Tsunegusu was shocked to see his elder brother appear in a shabby suit made of flimsy fabric like a mosquito net. He also was astounded Kumagusu had come back with tons of books and specimens but no degree. Kumagusu found temporary shelter at the brother’s in Wakayama after 14 years abroad.

After a while, Kumagusu heard that Sun Yat-sen was in the Yokohama settlement as a political refugee and wrote him. In February 1901 Sun came over to Wakayama. Although the first reunion in four years was disturbed by the police shadowing, Sun was happy to take risks to see the old friend from the time in London. At parting Sun left his favorite panama and afterwards sent him a reference letter addressed to Tsuyoshi Inukai, his guardian in Japan and later was Prime Minister. The letter, never used, is kept in the Minakata Residence and the hat is on display in the Minakata Kumagusu Museum.

Their friendship survived for a while; Sun sent specimens of lichen from Hawaii and Kumagusu wrote back, but ultimately they drifted apart and never met again. After Sun’s death, Kumagusu expressed his sorrow in the reminiscence and wrote: “Friendship changes like seasons.”

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