Expansion

The end of Okayama was just the beginning of an ever-expanding number of projects for the Center for Japanese Studies. 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 lecture series by experts on 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, which included an oral exit exam, 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 establishing the organization’s administrative activities in Ann Arbor. For decades the AAS was housed in the same building as the Center for Japanese Studies, and more University of Michigan professors have served in 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, vigorously cataloging the tens of thousands of books Center staff were continuing to gather. In fact, in 1955, the Center was in serious financial straits, but it was 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. Ryōkichi Minobe, Director of Japan’s Bureau of Statistics and Professor of Economics at Hōsei 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.

Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima in a Michigan Daily Article (July 18, 1957)

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 a 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 Japanese 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.

International Congress of Orientalists

XXVII International Congress of Orientalists. (1967)