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Center for Japanese StudiesCenter_for_Japanese_Studies_Master.html

One of the many things that World War II taught Americans was the general inadequacy of their knowledge of critical areas outside their own country. Since the war the responsibilities of world leadership assumed by the United States have made more acute the need for Americans to acquire an understanding of the world around them. One result of this growing world consciousness has been an important new development in American higher education: the appearance of graduate training and research centers on the different foreign areas of the world. Such centers have been established in most of the major universities, the areas of specialization depending upon the resources and interests of each university. The University of Michigan's Center for Japanese Studies is one such program.

The University has for many years held a leading place among American institutions the curriculums of which have included training in the Far Eastern area. Some twenty years ago a small group of the faculty at Ann Arbor initiated the Program in Oriental Civilizations. Gradually, this broader program came to be more and more specialized on the Far East; the whole Orient proved to be too large a unit. By World War II the University had a nation-wide reputation in Far Eastern studies, and various area and language schools were assigned to it by the United States government. After the war Professor Robert B. Hall of the Department of Geography, under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council, made a survey of the foreign-area resources and interests of the different major universities of the country, recommending a plan for development on a national scale. He was instrumental in bringing the Center for Japanese Studies to Michigan in 1947 and has been its Director from the start.

The Center for Japanese Studies was made possible by generous grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. To these a supplemental annual grant is made by the University. The Viking Fund has been most helpful in supplying equipment for research in the field. The General Library and private donors have assisted in building up a library of Japanese materials.

The aim of the Center for Japanese Studies is fourfold: (1) to build at the University of Michigan a solid base in Japanese studies in terms of staff and library and other research and training resources, (2) to train a limited number of highly selected young men and women as specialists in the Japanese area, (3) to carry out a program of publication of research findings and research materials in the Japanese field, and (4) to maintain a continuing research program of investigation on the total structure of Japanese society.

The Center for Japanese Studies has its administrative offices in Haven Hall. A library, reading room, seminar, and workrooms are on the fourth floor of the General Library. The library, one of the major Oriental collections in the country, now numbers some fifty thousand volumes of which eight thousand are in Chinese and the rest in Japanese. It offers facilities to students and staff for complete research in the Japanese area. The Center also maintains in Japan a field station in the city of Okayama. This station, equipped with living quarters, cars, office equipment, photostat machines, provides all the essentials to students and staff to conduct firsthand observational studies in Japan proper.

The staff of the Center for Japanese Studies consists of thirteen experts in the Japanese area. Each of these men is a member of a regular department of the University at the same time that he participates in the integrated training and research program of the Center. The staff members and their specialties in 1954 were Ronald S. Anderson (Japanese and comparative education), Richard K. Beardsley (anthropology, Japan and North Asia), James I. Crump (Chinese, early Sino-Japanese relations), John W. Hall (history), Robert B. Hall (geography, Director), Donald A. Holzman (Chinese, Buddhist and Japanese thought), Max Loehr (Chinese and Buddhist art), James M. Plumer (Japanese art), Charles F. Remer (economics), Hide Shohara (Japanese), Mischa Titiev (anthropology), Robert E. Ward (political science), Joseph K. Yamagiwa (Japanese language and literature). Godfrey R. Nunn is cataloguer in charge of the Oriental Library collection, and Yotaro Okuno is in charge of the Center's Japanese Library.

The Center accepts for training graduate students who can demonstrate a keen interest in the Japanese area. In this regard the Center has been most fortunate in attracting a number of the best men who received long and intensive Japanese language training in the wartime schools of the armed forces. The Center is also able to provide fellowships for a limited number of able students. The student, on entering, studies the Japanese language to attain competence in handling research materials.

He is required to complete a central integrated course, which extends through the academic year. In this he is given a broad and integrated view of Japanese society and of the Japanese land. He becomes familiar with the outstanding works on Japan in the different fields of interest. A program of specialized courses on Japan is laid out for each student according to his long-run interests. He is also required to participate in the continuing research seminar of the Center as long as he is on the campus. Here he uses research materials in the Japanese language, works with others on interdisciplinary research problems on Japan, is exposed to the entire range of Japanese bibliography, and absorbs something of the methodologies, points of view, and techniques of the several social science and humanistic disciplines. The master's degree is given when this program is completed.

The student then enters the program of the department of his major interest and there meets all departmental requirements for the Ph.D. degree. He, however, continues to participate in the Center's research seminar. He ultimately chooses a Japanese subject for his doctor's dissertation, but one that is completely acceptable to the department in question. For the better students a year or more of fieldwork in Japan is arranged. This may be to secure data for dissertations or it may be a kind of internship after the work for the degree is completed.

The Center carries an average of fifteen to twenty students in its program each year. Since its establishment the total number entering the program has reached nearly a hundred. Of these, forty-four have received M.A. degrees and eight Ph.D. degrees. The graduates have entered all walks of life. The largest number has gone into government service. Others have become teachers, journalists, and businessmen.

As the research program of the Center is aimed ultimately at an understanding of the total structure of Japanese society, the work has had to be divided into a number of projects of manageable size. The central project involves a series of interdisciplinary community studies beginning at the small-village level. In this program close co-ordination is maintained between the Center in Ann Arbor and members in the field. Field teams study intensively certain selected communities.

To record and make available the findings of field research, a cross-index file system is used which is a modified version of The Human Relations Area Files index adapted to the Japanese scene. All individual and group findings are recorded on 5 by 8 inch sheets, in triplicate, with notations for cross-reference. One copy is filed in the Center's laboratory in Okayama, one copy is sent to the Center's library in Ann Arbor, and the third copy remains with the originator. All findings are available to all members of the Center. The Ann Arbor file is worked over by the research seminar and checked against existing literature, and criticisms and suggestions on it are sent back to the field. In Okayama the files are subject to constant discussion and are revised as new data become available.

In addition to the community study program the Center has used certain other methods of approach to its basic research goals. Public opinion and background surveys have been carried out extensively. A large-scale historical project has accumulated all types of documentary materials for a reconstruction of the background out of which modern Japan has emerged. Finally, each of the Center members going into the field has undertaken a personal study within the range of his particular disciplinary competence. Up to 1954 sixteen students and nine faculty members have been in the field. The co-ordination of all these varied approaches, it is believed, will result in greater understanding of Japan and Japanese society.

The Center publishes several scholarly series designed to aid the progress of Japanese studies in this country. The Center's Occasional Papers, four issues of which have been published by 1954, make available the preliminary findings of the Center's field workers. They also include selected translations of significant Japanese works. The Bibliographical Series, four issues of which have appeared by 1954, seeks to provide annotated guides to the basic Japanese research and reference materials in the standard disciplines.

John W. Hall


Announcement, University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies. Univ. Mich. Official Publication, Vol. 53, No. 7 (1951).

Hall, Robert B.Area Studies: With Special Reference to Their Implications for Research in the Social Sciences (New York: Social Science Research Council, 1947), Pamphlet No. 3.

Hall, Robert B."Japanese Studies at Ann Arbor and Okayama."Mich. Alumnus Quart. Rev., LVII (1951), No. 14.

The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey...Wilfred B. Shaw, editor, pages 1546 – 1548

History of the University of Michigan

Center for Japanese Studies