Leslie Pincus, History: 2012-present
Jonathan Zwicker, Asian Languages & Cultures: 2011-2012
Ken K. Ito, Asian Languages & Cultures: 2008-2011
Mark D. West, Law: 2003-2008
John Lie, Sociology: 2002-2003
Robert Sharf, Buddhist Studies: 1999-2000
Hitomi Tonomura, History: 1995-1999, 2000-2002
Jennifer Robertson, Anthropology: 1993-1994
Harold W. Stevenson, Psychology: 1990-1991
Robert L. Danly, Asian Languages & Cultures: 1987-1990, 1991-1993, 1994-1995
John Campbell, Political Science: 1982-1987
Robert E. Cole, Sociology: 1974-1977, 1979-1982
Roger Hackett, History: 1968-1971
Joseph Yamagiwa, Japanese Language & Literature: 1960
Richard K. Beardsley, Anthropology: 1959-1960, 1961-1964, 1973-1974
John Hall, History: 1954-1955, 1959, 1960-1961
Robert Ward, Political Science: 1951-1952, 1959, 1964-1968, 1971-1973
Robert Hall, Geography: 1947-1951, 1952-1954, 1955
The path-making legacy of the Center for Japanese Studies is part of the broad leadership role in scholarship promulgated by the University of Michigan as a whole and as such reaches back much further than the half-century of the Center itself. Michigan's involvement in Asia dates to President Angell's tenure as a special envoy to China in the 1870s. The first students to come from Japan to study in Michigan arrived in the 1870s and included Toyama Masakazu, who became president of Tokyo Imperial University and eventually Japan's Education Minister. His honorary degree from Michigan, awarded in 1886, was the first ever granted to a Japanese by an American university. The first English-language academic studies of the Japanese economy were carried out in Michigan by Ono Eijiro in the 1890s, a man who went on to become president of the Industrial Bank of Japan. The books he donated here became the core of an extensive library collection on Meiji economic history. In point of fact, four of the first ten Ph.D. recipients in economics at Michigan were Japanese.
Detailed examination and analysis of Japanese history and culture began here early in this century as well, and was soon followed by the first Japanese language courses offered at Michigan, in 1935. This led, in 1936, a year in which the University boasted more native-born Asians in its class lists than any other institution in the United States, to the formal organization of an Oriental Civilizations Program (Now the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures). Interest in this program was slight prior to WWII, but the prominence of Japan in the program led the U.S. Army to establish a Japanese Language School here in 1942. Subsequently, hundreds of American soldiers could be seen traversing the streets of Ann Arbor furiously writing invisible Japanese characters in the air---often to the befuddled stares of passers-by. With local interest piqued, in January 1943, Major General George V. Strong, an assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, felt it necessary to dictate the following telegram to the University:
"IT IS THE DESIRE OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT THAT NO REPEAT NO PUBLICITY OF ANY KIND BE GIVEN THE ARMY LANGUAGE SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN YOUR COOPERATION WILL BE APPRECIATED."
The army it seems regarded the Japanese language school's presence in Ann Arbor as a military secret. Nevertheless, the Michigan Daily and the Ann Arbor News both found the program too good to ignore and ran frequent stories.
Through the end of the war, Professor Joseph K. Yamagiwa and his associates trained more than 1500 American soldiers in the Japanese language. An invaluable addition to the Allied war effort in the Pacific, the contribution of the Japanese linguists did not go unnoticed in the United States either. Dr. Robert B. Hall of the Department of Geography was, in 1946, preparing a recommendation on area studies for the Social Science Research Council. Hall had already been studying Asia for 30 years and would eventually be made a member of both the Order of the Rising Sun and the Order of the Sacred Treasure, the highest awards given to foreigners by Japan. Dr. Hall had a vision for an institutionalized approach to area studies that would build on language studies. Dr. Hall called for an interdisciplinary site of academic endeavor which would unite humanities disciplines he felt were developing in increasing isolation from one another. This approach would also demystify ivory tower studies to inform American citizens. Emphasis placed on an informed citizenry that would help safeguard American interests in the aftermath of a global war—and in the anticipation of future ones—was key in helping to attract needed Center funding.
The war in the Pacific was the crucial event in the establishment of the Center for Japanese Studies. Just as postwar Allied occupation brought to Japan a new Constitution, a revised education system, radical land reform, and women's suffrage, it also brought to Michigan a chance to build on the highly regarded army language training program. In June of 1947, the Center for Japanese Studies was formally established in Haven Hall. As per Dr. Hall's precepts for area studies, education through the Center was to be considered an additional competency, not an alternative one. This was partly to allay fears within the university community that the Center would "steal" graduate students from other departments.
Students would begin with language training, followed by the study of social science theories and finally, field work—a chance to test theories against realities. Professor Hall was appointed Director, presiding over a diversified executive committee: Professor James M. Plumer, Department of Fine Arts; Professor Charles F. Remer, Department of Economics; Professor Mischa Titiev, Department of Anthropology; and Professor Joseph K. Yamagiwa, Department of Oriental Languages. A September 1948 lecture in Japanese by Bunshiro Suzuki, a former editor of the Asahi Shimbun who spoke on the role of women in Japanese society, illustrated the leadership role Michigan had by this time assumed in Japanese studies. Not only would a Japanese man be unwelcome in most places in America so soon after the war, few places would have an audience who could understand Japanese. The Michigan Daily called this Rackham lecture "probably the largest single gathering of Americans in the United States who [understand] Japanese."
Initial funding for the Center was provided by the Carnegie Corporation, and resulted in the acceptance of 25 students from a pool of over 150 applicants. All were men with military language training in Japanese, and most had spent some amount of time in Japan. An integral component of their training was deemed to be research on-site in Japan. To this end, the Center embarked on the first of many ambitious projects as the newly formed executive committee began the arduous task of setting up a field station in war-ravaged Japan.
Conditions in Japan following WWII were chaotic at best. Outside of urban areas, irrespective of the damage caused by the war, there were few telephones or automobiles, and all manner of items required for daily living were in short supply. Day-to-day life was a struggle, not to mention trying to organize a research center in the heart of the Japanese countryside. Beginning with correspondence and ultimately Dr. Hall's face-to-face meetings with General Douglas MacArthur in Tokyo, the Center was able to secure permission from the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers for studies in Okayama, Japan. According to the General,
"THE FOUR-YEAR PROJECT FOR RESEARCH IN JAPAN APPEARS TO BE BOLDLY PLANNED AND SOUNDLY CONCEIVED. CARRIED TO A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION, IT SHOULD RESULT IN A BODY OF KNOWLEDGE WHICH WILL PROVE OF INESTIMABLE VALUE NOT ONLY TO THE ACADEMIC WORLD, BUT TO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF JAPAN BY OUR OWN PEOPLE."
While it is arguable what MacArthur meant by "our own people," there is no doubt that the project would be carried out in the University of Michigan's farthest-flung classroom.
The region chosen for the field station was located midway down the Pacific coast of Japan's largest island, an area euphemistically known as "the Cradle of Japanese Civilization." Research was to begin there, a four-year plan, then expand over the entire country. Having secured property, no small feat, the Center began working in the Okayama field station on April 1, 1950. Center staff and graduate students, the latter all Reserve Officers in the Army or Navy, were shepherded through a maze of red tape, vaccinated against small pox, typhoid, typhus, and cholera and sent on the long voyage to Japan. For the graduate students this was an opportunity to assist professors in advanced research, while at the same time working to complete their own Master's essay and/or choose a topic for the Ph.D.
Ultimately, the Center would be studying three separate villages near Okayama: one whose economy centered around fishing, another concerned with agriculture, and the third a mountain village. The research staff would be quite spread out, but the program set its sights on coming away with "an approximation of a total knowledge of these representative communities." The normal working procedure was to have the community under study by specialists in several disciplines at the same time. During the first year, for example, the village of Niike, ultimately the focus of the most research, was under almost daily observation by an anthropologist, a geographer, and a political scientist among others. While it was neither possible nor desirable to live in the village, researchers averaged a six-hour day, four or five days a week there or in neighboring villages, homes, or offices.
Center staff at the field station, in addition to a wide variety of research duties, spent a great deal of time on "housekeeping" problems. Communication with the Center back in Ann Arbor was slow by regular mail so emergency messages, like the following from Dr. Hall, dated 1950, were sent by cable.
"MUST HAVE MOVIE CAMERA ANN ARBOR BEFORE ONE FEBRUARY PREVIOUS CABLE CANCELED BOB BRING IF DICK GONE CRITICAL!"
Daily problems revolved around finding room for the constantly changing students, faculty, and staff, and securing even the simplest of supplies. Procurement of a stove, for example, took over a year, and included battles with the manufacturer, two shipping agents, a number of warehouses, and local authorities in Japan. The Center and its personnel were often the litmus test for new laws on immigration, imports/exports, and taxes, not to mention being the first foreigners many people had ever interacted with. As Curtis Manchester, one of several Research Directors at Okayama, revealed in a letter home, even making a payment for services rendered was not always easy.
"THE CENTER IS NOW INVOLVED IN A GIFT EXCHANGE WITH PROF. WAKITA. I PAID HIM A FEE RECOMMENDED BY THE KENCHO SOCIAL AFFAIRS SECTION. HE SEEMS TO HAVE CONSIDERED IT TOO HIGH AND...HE PRESENTED THE UNIVERSITY WITH AN EDO JIDAI INCENSE CLOCK. EVERYONE SAYS IT IS VERY RARE....THE SOCIAL AFFAIRS SECTION IS NOW PONDERING THE QUESTION OF HOW TO MAKE A PROPER RETURN AND END THE GIFT EXCHANGE. IT WILL MAKE A GOOD CONVERSATION PIECE IN A2."
The routing of supplies and personnel was often circuitous. Travel to and from the villages was by jeep, and the field station's vehicles were in constant demand. It was also difficult to keep tabs on all personnel as dozens of people were applying themselves to hundreds of research projects simultaneously. These projects had to be woven into a fabric of goodwill as field station faculty members ingratiated themselves to local politicians, academicians, and the public with seminars and social gatherings, both formal and informal. At the center of some debate was the field station's tennis court. Upkeep was expensive but deemed necessary as a way of putting up a good public front. Monthly reports to Ann Arbor, now on file at the Bentley Historical Library, took the form of long letters, that mixed academic, financial, housekeeping, and personal moments in a telling jumble of conventional and unconventional education.
"DEAR BOB, I HAVE BEEN PUTTING OFF THIS THIRD REPORT IN THE HOPE THAT I WOULD BE ABLE TO REPORT THE SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION OF A COUPLE OF PROBLEMS. ONE, THE PURCHASE OF THE 18,200 VOLUMES FROM THE KAMADA LIBRARY IS NOW SET UP; THE OTHER, THE CONTINUING PROBLEM OF THE ELUSIVE ELECTRIC STOVE, CONTINUES TO REMAIN UNSOLVED.... EVERYONE CONTINUES IN GOOD HEALTH, ALTHOUGH I HAVE ABOUT DECIDED THAT I AM ALLERGIC TO RICE (I WOULD SPECIALIZE IN JAPAN). I HAVE HAD A CONTINUAL AND MISERABLE ALLERGY EVER SINCE THE RICE BEGAN TO COME TO A HEAD IN AUGUST. . .I HAD PARTICULARLY HOPED TO BE ABLE TO REPORT CONNIE’S SAFE DELIVERY AND THE ARRIVAL OF A WARD HEIR, BUT SHE STILL CONTINUES IN FINE HEALTH, THOUGH OF ALARMING BULK. THE DOCTOR TOLD HER LAST THURSDAY THAT SHE WAS CARRYING 'TAKUSAN" BABY, SO I GUESS IT WILL BE A PRETTY LARGE CHILD."--Excerpt of a letter from Robert Ward to Robert Hall, October 1950
Interest in the field station brought more notice to the Center for Japanese Studies in Ann Arbor. The Japanese Ambassador to the United States cut the ribbon to open the Asia Library, and in 1953, then nineteen-year-old Crown Prince Akihito came to Ann Arbor to tour the Center and meet its scholars. As Bill Bender reported on local radio,
"WEARING A GRAY BUSINESS SUIT, GREEN TIE AND BROWN OXFORDS, THE CROWN PRINCE IS A SLENDER YOUNG MAN OF 19 WITH CLEAR CUT FEATURES AND WIDE DARK EYES.... THERE IS A PECULIAR TIMELINESS TO HIS APPEARANCE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES. AS YOU KNOW, IT WAS AN AMERICAN NAVAL OFFICER WHO ENDED THE LONG CENTURIES OF JAPANESE ISOLATION FROM THE WESTERN WORLD. AND IT WAS EXACTLY ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO THAT COMMODORE MATTHEW C. PERRY FIRST SAILED HIS FOUR BLACK SHIPS INTO TOKYO BAY."
The original four-year plan for Okayama lasted more than five years with the field station finally closing in 1955. Among Center records is a book filled with pleas like the following from Okayama Governor Yukihara Miki.
"YOUR LETTER DATED MARCH 14 CONCERNING THE FUTURE OF THE OKAYAMA FIELD CENTER FOR JAPANESE STUDIES HAS STARTLED US GREATLY AND GIVEN RISE TO AN UNEASINESS. IT IS EARNESTLY DESIRED THAT WE SHALL BE RELIEVED OF THIS UNEASINESS. . .MOREOVER, YOUR RESEARCH SCHOLARS WHO ARE ALL TYPICAL AMERICAN GENTLEMEN HAVE MADE AN ENORMOUS CONTRIBUTION TOWARD THE PROMOTION OF FRIENDLY RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES THROUGH THEIR STUDIES AND DAILY CONTACT WITH US, BESIDES THEY HAVE INFLUENCED US GREATLY BY THEIR NOBLE CHARACTER."
Despite the outpouring of support, on June 28, 1955 the field station closed its doors. The final cable between Ann Arbor and Okayama captured the mood in necessarily succinct tones:
"WELL DONE SORROW AND GRATITUDE MINGLED" —STAFF
The end of Okayama was just the beginning of an ever-expanding number of projects for the Center. By the early 1950s, the Center was out of the GI market and was preparing Michigan undergraduates for admission to an advanced course of study. For the next two decades all graduate students in the program were required to take the "Twelve Doors" course. A year-long series of experts lecturing in their own specialties, the class was also known to staff and students as the "Central Integrated Course," but was officially listed as "Anthropology 583-584: Peoples and Culture of Japan." The course, oral exit exam included, created not only a shared foundational knowledge of Japan for the students to build on, but also a sense of camaraderie that helped bind the future scholars to one another. These lectures eventually led to the publication of Twelve Doors to Japan (1965), with the goal of showing "outsiders" what insights and explanations the various separate disciplines could provide for the study of Japanese culture as a whole.
Beginning in 1952, a succession of CJS scholars served as Secretaries for the Far Eastern Association (founded in 1941, the name changed in 1956 to the Association for Asian Studies [AAS]), firmly rooting that organization’s administrative activities in Ann Arbor as well. For decades the AAS was housed in the same building as the Center for Japanese Studies, and more University of Michigan professors have served its administration than professors of any other institution. In the late 1950s, the Center was also involved with the American Studies Center at Kyoto University, and even provided book awards for "Outstanding Contributions in Japanese Studies"
to high school students at the American School in Tokyo.
Importantly, by the end of the decade, Center faculty had finished a project that had been the focus of research and discussion since the Center’s founding: a series of bibliographies representing many of the disciplines included at the Center, and itemizing the printed material available for the study of Japan. This was an influential accomplishment, indispensable to the serious study of Japan. The Asia Library was also, throughout the 1950s, furiously cataloging the tens of thousands of books Center staff were continuing to gather. In 1955 in fact, the Center was in serious financial straits but still trying to hire an additional seven staff members just to catalog the books. By late in the decade, the research carried out by Center faculty members at the Okayama field station led to dozens of publications, including the seminal work Village Japan (1959).
Early on in its institutional life, the Center also began to bring Japanese scholars to Ann Arbor. Among the first was Dr. Ryokichi Minobe, Director of Japan’s Bureau of Statistics and Professor of Economics at Hosei University, who taught in Ann Arbor in the summer of 1949. Sumio Taniguchi, later President of Okayama University, arrived in 1952 to help John Hall organize the mountains of Okayama research. Other early notables included Yukio Mishima who spoke to a packed house in Angell Hall on "The Literary Climate of Japan" in 1957, and the soon-to-be-Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer who insisted in his lecture that same year that "modernization, as opposed to Westernization," was the trend in Japan. The mid-1950s also saw the beginnings of an exchange of Engineering faculty with Waseda University. Additionally, the Center's Publications Program, which in fact preceded the founding of the Okayama field station by a few months, served as an important vehicle for publishing Okayama-based research and other works of early Center faculty and students. The Center for Japanese Studies Occasional Papers Series that ran from 1951 to 1979 showcased the results of interdisciplinary research and in-depth local knowledge.
By the fall of 1958, in response to the spread of academic programs devoted to Japan and particularly to the growing number of specialists trained to handle the Japanese language, a group of scholars gathered at the University of Michigan to seek some means of bringing together in more systematic fashion the results of the ever more widely scattered studies of Japan. The AAS-supported "Conference on Modern Japan" which resulted from this meeting was dedicated both to the pooling of recent scholarly findings and to the possibility of stimulating new ideas and approaches to the study of modern Japan. With a half dozen yearly seminars and ultimately dozens of related publications, the conference served as the initial focus for Japan studies in the 1960s.
The 1960s in Japan, as throughout much of the Western world, was a time of tremendous social upheaval. Ushering in the tumult was the 1960 renewal of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty. By the end of the decade, social unrest was most prevalent in Japan's universities, where student riots actually shut down many of the more well-known schools. In 1960, Robert Hall was in Tokyo for a first-hand look.
"RIGHT NOW IS NOT THE VERY BEST TIME TO BE IN JAPAN. DEMONSTRATIONS, RIOTS, AND ZIG-ZAG MARCHES AGAINST MR. KISHI, THE SECURITY PACT AND THE COMING VISIT OF PRESIDENT EISENHOWER ARE GOING ON ALMOST AROUND THE CLOCK. SO FAR, ONLY ONE AMERICAN HAS HAD HIS CAR PULLED APART AND HE WENT WHERE BETTER JUDGMENT WOULD HAVE ARGUED AGAINST."
During the second year of this "radical" decade, the Center began outreach programs under the National Defense Education Act for Language and Area Centers. This was also a year that ushered in the "Political Modernization of Japan Project," an undertaking that involved six Center scholars working in concert for a period of five years. A continuing effort to disseminate research was also reflected in Ann Arbor’s 1967 hosting of the "XXVII International Congress of Orientalists," which, supported by the AAS, filled the area’s hotels with interested scholars.
Throughout most of the 1970s, the industrial world including Japan was responding to the "Oil Shock," a world-wide dilemma that would reshape trade practices in the coming decades. Change was also continuing in Japanese scholarship. Those in the vanguard of postwar scholarship had begun to turn over Center reins to a new generation of Japan faculty specialists. By the fall term of 1973, there were 19 U of M faculty members associated with the Center, and 63 active graduate students. Positions in psychology, public health, law, music, sociology, and business administration, to name a few, had been added. The Center had become the locus for the widest range of disciplinary study of Japan anywhere in the United States, and since its inception, had awarded 193 Masters of Arts and 84 departmental Ph.D.s. In recognition of its achievements, in 1973, the Center received a one million dollar grant from the Japanese government. This would augment the generous donations that had been awarded to the Center over the years by the Ford and Carnegie Foundations.
In 1972, the Center began the Project on Asian Studies in Education (PASE). One of many outreach programs, PASE, through conferences, workshops, and extension courses, was designed to assist secondary and college-level instructors of Asian studies in developing curricula. By 1974, the Center, along with the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, was also deeply involved in planning a symposium and a traveling exhibit of rare cultural treasures titled: "Image and Life: 50,000 Years of Japanese Prehistory." While the exhibit, high-level docent, and accompanying teaching kit and slide collection traveled the U.S. late in the decade, an international symposium was held in Ann Arbor in October, 1979. It attracted considerable attention and calls for a major publication. The resulting volume: Windows on the Japanese Past: Studies in Archaeology and Prehistory was seven years in the making. It required the close cooperation of scholars from four countries, and was highlighted by the inclusion of 17 translated articles. It was the largest project attempted by the Center for Japanese Studies Publications Program to date, and one that allowed the rare opportunity for scholars from Japan to present their work directly to readers in the West.
After 25 years of work, the Center found itself with much more to learn and teach about Japan. In 1973, CJS Director Roger Hackett compared Japanese American awareness to opposite ends of a telescope.
"THE JAPANESE TEND TO VIEW AMERICAN DEVELOPMENTS THROUGH THE SMALL END, MAGNIFYING EVERYTHING WHICH HAPPENS, WHILE GENERAL AMERICAN AWARENESS OF JAPAN IS THAT OF A PERSON LOOKING THROUGH THE LARGE END AND REALLY BEING UNAWARE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF EVENTS."
If the average American's understanding of Japan was wanting, the Oil Shock and Japan's nimble response to it, especially in the area of automotive exports, created a whole new demand for information. U.S. companies made urgent calls for information about Japanese automobile makers. Given the proximity to Detroit, it was natural that the Center provided the Big Three U.S. auto makers with information about the Japanese automobile industry that, at the time, no one else in the U.S. had. The need for information led to a joint effort with Technova, a Japanese think-tank, that in turn resulted in the "Joint U.S.-Japan Automotive Study." The study was financed by Toyota with substantial support from the U.S. Big Three. The study group also included members of the United Auto Workers union. So urgent was the need for accurate information that at the original auto conference held on campus in 1981 several hundred attendees were expected...more than 1200 showed up! The initial conferences and publications, which expanded throughout the 1980s, were among the earliest sources for information about some of the key overall principles considered to underlie Japanese automotive and economic success.
The U.S.-Japan Automotive Study resulted in a comprehensive report published in 1984, and was closely followed by the formation of the International Auto Industry Forum which was active from 1984-1990. Meetings with representatives from car-making countries throughout the world rotated annually from the United States to Japan sites. These large-scale conferences were supplemented in the mid-1980s by practical seminars for interested business people, including executives from Ford Motor Company and Dow Corning for example. Short workshops such as the East Asia Business Program’s "Negotiating with the Japanese" became quite popular and continue to be offered through many of the scholars and programs affiliated with the Center for Japanese Studies.
The 1980s brought more and more world attention to Japan. The Japanese economy was now a juggernaut. The country continued to play a larger and larger role on the world stage, while it struggled with the newfound scrutiny of its international responsibilities. As interest in all things Japanese continued to swell, University of Michigan faculty saw increasing enrollment in virtually every course having to do with things Japanese.
Paralleling the expanding number of lecturers and publications in all fields, the core Japanese language courses, offered since 1936, saw enrollment jump as well. Business-related activities expanded too, and in 1983, the Center joined with the School of Business Administration to offer the M.A./M.B.A. degree in Japanese Studies and Business. Also, in 1985, the Center for Japanese Studies, the Center for Chinese Studies, and the School of Business Administration began a joint venture called "The East Asia Business Program." To strengthen the capacity of American business in East Asia, the program includes promoting both a general understanding of East Asia and specific knowledge needed to cope with current business problems and opportunities. It includes executive seminars on Japan and China, academic conferences, single company presentations, a Joint Degree Program in East Asian Studies and International Business, internships for graduate students, business-related language training, and more.
In a Center effort to balance Business issues with the Arts and Humanities, the 1980s saw, among other things, a focus on Japanese literature publications. In emphasizing the cultural dimension, the Center, which had been showing Japanese films almost constantly since the early 1970s, also revamped its annual film festivals. Since then, thousands of viewers continue to be exposed to the best critically acclaimed and popular films of the Japanese cinema, many with little other international exposure. Over 300 films including documentaries, animation, classics, experimental films, and popular favorites have been shown in their original Japanese (with English subtitles) to Ann Arbor audiences. The free viewings, normally open to the public, have also been used in conjunction with semester-long courses, public lectures, and seminars from leading scholars on Japanese history, film, and society. The Center also yearly supports a variety of other performances including Japanese music, theater, and more, giving Japanese artists and American audiences rare opportunities for direct interaction.
"MY STUDENTS STAYED THE COURSE. . . THEIR PAPERS WERE VERY GOOD. TEACHING THEM HAD AN INFLUENCE UPON ME. IT GAVE THE ENERGY TO BEGIN MY BOOK, ‘THE AESTHETICS OF THE TRADITIONAL JAPANESE FILM’ AND IT IS TO MY STUDENTS THAT I WILL DEDICATE IT. THEY WERE THE ONES WHO HELD UP THE MIRROR FOR ME AND WHO MADE THEIR OWN CONTRIBUTIONS TO MY WORK. I REMAIN VERY GRATEFUL TO THEM."
—Donald Richie, Toyota Chair, Fall 1993
At the end of the 1980s, an eight-year lobbying effort resulted in a revolving endowed professorship that has enabled the Center to continue to provide interactions with the Japanese scholarly community at large. Since 1988, the Toyota Visiting Professorship has brought 35 scholars from Japan, Europe, and throughout the United States to teach at the University of Michigan. These specialists share their insights in disciplines ranging from business management and anthropology, to education, musicology, film, and political science. For students it is a chance to take classes with a Japan expert they would not otherwise have access to. The public profits through public lectures, and the visiting scholars have the opportunity to share information with new colleagues and take advantage of some of the best Asia resources in the United States.
"I WAS ENORMOUSLY IMPRESSED BY THE ACADEMIC QUALITY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN WHERE I FOUND A HIGH LEVEL OF ENERGY FOR INTELLECTUAL ACTIVITY. . .THE CENTER WAS EQUALLY STIMULATING IN TERMS OF INTELLECTUAL INPUT. THE INTELLECTUAL EXCITEMENT AND COLLEGIALITY WERE VISIBLE AT THE CENTER, EXTENDING TO THE STUDENTS WHO SEEM TO HAVE FOUND BOTH AN INTELLECTUAL AND PERSONAL HOME AT THE CENTER."
—Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Toyota Chair, 1995
The Center now supports a community of over fifty Japan area specialists who teach and pursue research in the University's various departments and professional schools. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, Center faculty lecture to many outside groups, write extensively for both scholarly journals and popular media, participate in national professional associations, serve as consultants to industry and government, and otherwise respond to and foster American interest in Japan. Counting all disciplines, there are now nearly 100 courses focusing on Japan, annually enrolling over 1,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The continuing work of Center students and faculty has also led to an increase in publications. The Center Publications Program has continued to produce a wide variety of volumes on Japan by scholars around the world. Works currently appear in three series, Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies, Michigan Papers in Japanese Studies, and Michigan Classics in Japanese Studies, and as non series publications. Center books have been reviewed in the New York Times Book Review and World Literature Today, as well as in all the major journals on Japanese and Asian studies. Over 100 universities and colleges have adopted Center titles as textbooks for classes on Japanese language, literature, and culture. The Center also publishes materials of special interest to industry, government, and the general public.
Promoting and disseminating research about Japan continues to be a primary Center objective. Both individual and collective research projects are carried out with financial and administrative support from the Center. Ongoing projects include research on modern and classical Japanese literature, gender relations, political decision-making, Japanese linguistics, Japanese technology management, Zen Buddhism monastic institutions, social welfare, Japanese modernity, and post-war architecture. Recent Center programs and funding are geared toward educating pre-college-age students as well. This includes the Japan Kit, a resource for K-12 teachers, designed to help them introduce Japanese culture to their students. The Center also participates in numerous interdisciplinary programs.
In 60 years the Center has compiled a variety of tools to aid in the study of Japan. Resource collections include the largest and most central, the Asia Library. At more than 725,000 volumes in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, the Asia Library’s holdings constitute the third largest university collection of Japanese language books and periodicals in the United States. Other resource collections include the Asian Art Archives, the Japanese Art Slide Collection, prehistoric artifacts in the Museum of Anthropology, works of art in the Museum of Art, recordings and transcriptions in the School of Music Library, documents related to the history of the Center in the Bentley Historical Library, and rare Japanese instruments in the Stearns Collection. The Center also makes up part of the East Asia National Resource Centers funded by the Department of Education.
The Center for Japanese Studies has been tested by turbulent change in both the United States and Japan, and by its own faculty, staff, and students who demand and provide continuing insight into Japan and its relationship to the world. Since 1947, more than 500 M.A. degrees have been awarded to either Center or departmental students, and over 200 Ph.D. degrees have been awarded in Japan-related disciplines. The Center aims to create new opportunities for knowledge, for learning, for understanding, for development, and for cooperation. The speed and extent of change in today's world point to a future of great complexity and challenge and to a sharp increase in the level of expectations for a necessarily interdisciplinary approach to scholarship. It is a challenge the Center for Japanese Studies will meet head-on.
Cameron, Maribeth. "Far Eastern Studies in the United State"” (Far Eastern Quarterly, vol. VII, no. 2, February 1948).
Records of Center for Japanese Studies. Bentley Historical Library. University of Michigan.
Fairbank, John King and Edwin O. Reischauer. "Understanding the Far East Through Area Study" (Far Eastern Survey, May 19, 1948).
Hall, Robert. Area Studies: With Special Reference to their Implications for Research in the Social Sciences (Social Science Research Council: New York, 1947).
— "Japanese Study in Ann Arbor and Okayama" (Michigan Alumnus Quarterly Review, February 24, 1951).
Hucker, Charles O. The Association of Asian Studies: An Interpretive History (University of Washington Press: Seattle, WA, 1973).
Jansen, Marius. The History of Japanese Studies in the United States (The Association for Asian Studies: Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1988).
Nelson, J. Raleight. "The Foreign Student on the Michigan Campus" (Michigan Alumnus Quarterly Review, vol. XLIII, no. 1, October 3, 1936).
— "Michigan's International Center" (Michigan Alumnus Quarterly Review, vol. XLVI, no. 10, December 16, 1939).
Ward, Robert. The Development of Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan, 1947-1966 (University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1966).