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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (Apr. 2015)


Establishment of the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture
Bringing the world a fusion of Japanese studies from Japan and the West

Ryusaku Tsunoda (photograph taken at Columbia University)
Ryusaku Tsunoda (1877-1964) was a pioneer in Japanese cultural studies in America. Tsunoda was instructed by Shoyo Tsubouchi and others at Tokyo Senmon Gakko, the precursor of Waseda University. After working as a junior high school teacher until past the age of 40, Tsunoda traveled to America and enrolled at Columbia University. In 1929, Tsunoda founded the Japanese Culture Center at Columbia University. Beginning in 1931, Tsunoda taught Japanese culture for 31 years as an instructor at Columbia University. He cultivated Donald Keene and many other scholars with knowledge of Japan.

As part of the Waseda Ocean Initiative, Top Global University Project, the Waseda University Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences (Dean: Fusako Koshikawa) opened the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture (Director: Professor Lee Sungsi, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences) in January 2015. The center is intended as a global base for “Global Japanese Studies” which fuse Japanese cultural research through the different perspectives and approaches of Japan and Western countries. Waseda Ocean Initiative positions the Japanese Culture Studies program—which has already received high acclaim internationally*—as an advance model research base. The Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture serves as a window to that base. Currently, the center is constructing a global standardized research model and network for Global Japanese Studies and is promoting the exchange of personnel with Columbia University and UCLA, including research and educational activities. The center was bestowed with the name of Ryusaku Tsunoda in recognition of his efforts to globalize Japanese cultural research more than eighty years ago.

Through core partnerships with the Columbia University Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the UCLA Department of Asian Languages & Cultures, the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture is promoting research and educational activities focusing mainly on the fields of literature, theater and history. The center is also getting involved in various activities which include promoting the globalization of Global Japanese Studies, establishing a new course which provides graduate school education at a level meeting international criteria, and creating an undergraduate education program for developing professionals who will correctly convey Japanese culture to the world. The center shall also form research alliances among outstanding researchers in Global Japanese Studies from throughout the world, and shall realize a “knowledge migration system” which links students and researchers who perform on a global scale from the home base of Waseda University.

*QS World University Rankings 2014: Ranked 36th in the world (3rd in Japan)

From left Director Lee Sungsi, Vice-President Shuji Hashimoto, Professor Emeritus Donald Keene of Columbia University, and Professor Haruo Shirane of Columbia University

The opening ceremony for the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture was held on January 9 at the RIHGA Royal Hotel. The ceremony was attended by Donald Keene, a disciple of Ryusaku Tsunoda and Professor Emeritus at Columbia University (Honorary Doctor at Waseda University).
“I have led a fulfilling life thanks to Professor Tsunoda,” said Professor Keene when discussing his experiences as an undergraduate student. “Although I am 93 years old, I am still learning new things. I acquired this desire from knowledge from Professor Tsunoda. Professor Keene’s joy at the opening of the center was shared by Professor Haruo Shirane and other Columbia University faculty who attended the ceremony.

Website of the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture