Keene, Seidensticker et al.

Products of war, commodities of peace

By William Wetherall

First posted 12 November 2010
Last updated 28 March 2023

A version of this article appeared in SWET Newsletter, Number 121, November 2008, pages 12-23.
The addenda include some materials from my notes and stories about my own language teachers.

Article Introduction In a hundred years If remembered at all Prolific in two languages Memorabilia and momentos The next generation Japanese Language School (JLS) Connecting the dots
Addenda Keene Aoime no Tarojaka Discovery of Europe Seidensticker Lithuanian sushi "Snow Country" discussions et al. Donald Richie Lynne Riggs
Berkeley teachers Haruo Aoki Susumu Nakamura (JLS faculty) Elizabeth Carr (JLS faculty) Frank Motofuji (MISLS faculty) Bill and Helen (JLS grad) McCullough Kun Chang Michael Rogers (JLS grad)
The Japanese Film The off-camera editoral wars in the production of the study guide for KQED's 1975 PBS television series featuring Reischauer et al.

1983 Discover Japan 1975 Things Japanese
1980 More Things Japanese

Kodansha International's Discover Japan: Moshimoshi, sumimasen, domo (1983)
Matsumoto's translation of articles by Keene, Seidensticker, et al. selected from
A Hundred Things Japanese (1975) and A Hundred More Things Japanese (1980)
Yosha Bunko scans


Focusing on recently published biographical works by the late Edward G. Seidensticker and Columbia University professor Donald Keene, William Wetherall evokes the personalities and the times of two great promoters of Japanese literature in the postwar era.

Intrigued by its title and byline, I recently bought a bilingual book with the mixed-language title Discover Japan: Moshimoshi, sumimasen, dōmo by Donald Keene, E. G. Seidensticker, et al. The "et al." includes forty other writers, translators, and scholars, most now aging but still living in Japan. Published in 1983 by Kodansha International, the book features fifty-four short articles in English with Japanese versions translated by Matsumoto Michihiro, whose name is billed larger than those of the two featured authors.

The pieces were selected from the two hundred articles in Discover Japan: Words, Customs and Concepts -- Kodansha's re-issue of the volumes originally known as A Hundred Things Japanese and A Hundred More Things Japanese, published in the mid-1970s by the Japan Culture Institute, one of several organizations -- like the International Society for Educational Information and Kodansha International -- founded after World War II to improve Japan's image in the world.

Only the bilingual edition had a byline. But why mention only Keene and Seidensticker -- who had only one article each -- when some among the "et al." had as many as five? Seidensticker might say, with a shrug and a grin, "We were more famous than Richie or Riggs." And the name order? With a sigh and a smile: "Well, K comes before S in both English and Japanese." And if Reischauer had written something? He might grimace, laugh and say, "It would have been 'Reischauer, et al.'"

The drama of how Donald Keene (b1922) [d2019] and Edward G. Seidensticker (1921-2007) became rival commodities, especially in Japan, emerges from a reading of their several autobiographical works. As preeminent "buffers" in the postwar realm of Japanese literature with a penchant for column writing, the two men made a classic good-cop, bad-cop team in their journalistic interrogations of life in Japan. Over the decades, Keene's feelings about being asked if he can really read Japanese have softened from annoyance to disappointment. Seidensticker's reactions to being asked if he liked "Japanese sushi" mellowed from sarcastic mischief to mirthful cynicism. Keene, ever humble about his efforts, is a better cop than he thinks, and Seidensticker was never as bad as he tried to be.

Keene has been more insistent that Japan is his country as much, if not more, than the United States, and that Japanese is not a foreign language for him. Seidensticker loved Japan no less but found more to complain about in the human condition generally. He had fewer inhibitions about baring his neuroses and exhibiting his fetishes. Keene, more selective and sparing, in On Familiar Terms, declares simply, "I am not making a confession" (page 283).


Seidensticker 2002 Edward Seidensticker
Tokyo Central: A Memoir
University of Washington Press, 2002

Yosha Bunko scans
Seidensticker 2002 Edowaado G. Saidensutekkaa
Nagareyuku hibi: Saidensutekkaa jiden
[ Days flow on: Seidensticker autobiography ]
Jiji Tsūshin Shuppan Kyoku, 2004
(Translation by Anzai Tetsuo of Tokyo Central)

In a hundred years

Edward Seidensticker knew where he stood in the pecking order of aliens honored by Japan for their service as volunteer or conscript "shock absorbers" between Japan and the outside world -- buffers or ambassadors of mutual understanding, promoters of international goodwill and friendship. In Tokyo Central (University of Washington Press, 2002), he puts it plainly:

In 1975 I received the Order of the Rising Sun. It was only a Third Class decoration. Donald Keene had received the same Third Class decoration some time earlier. His was later raised to Second Class. First Class is reserved for people like Reischauer. I have never been raised from Third Class. (pages 228-229)

Seidensticker was dogged by Keene's greater fame and popularity in Japan. He wrote Tokyo Central while consulting and citing Keene's On Familiar Terms. But Keene appears not to have returned the favor in Chronicles of My Life (Columbia University Press, 2008).

The different sensitivities of the two translator-scholars are clear from their autobiographies. In On Familiar Terms Keene gives several pages to his friendship with Yoshida Ken'ichi (1912-1977), who is standing or sitting next to him in two photographs. In Tokyo Central, Seidensticker introduces Yoshida as the literary critic son of Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru, then dismisses him as "a friend who turned out not to be" and explains why (pages 148-149).

"One evening, for no reason that I could detect, he said substantially this: 'There is a kind of American who is the most urbane, witty, and generally charming person in the world; but you are not it.'"

Anticipating Yoshida's response, yet curious to see if he would get an "honest answer," Seidensticker says he asked who the American might be, but all he got was a "tense, high-pitched laugh."

Before his achievement of publishing the first complete English translation of The Tale of Genji, Seidensticker worried about both the extent and longevity of his fame. (Diary entry for Monday, 31 May 1971; Genji Days, Kodansha International, 1977, page 59)

A gentleman from the Liberal Democratic Party with whom I had a conversation in the Suehiro knew the names of certain of my colleagues, but did not recognize mine when I informed him of it. It is not fun to have what small store of note one has accumulated dissipate itself so quickly. But I suppose it is some comfort to think that in a hundred years most of us will be forgotten. "It is a terrible thing, to seek to be remembered a hundred years," Mr. Kawabata once remarked. In a thousand years not a half dozen people now alive will be remembered. Assuming, of course that there is anyone to remember. Or is it a comfort?


Keene 1993 Donarudo Kiin
Nihongo no bi
[ The Beauty of the Japanese Language ]
Chuo Koron Sha, 1993

Yosha Bunko scans
Keene 1993 Donarudo Kiin
Kono hitosuji ni tsunagarite
Asahi Shinbun Sha, 1993
(Translation by Kanaseki Hisao of
articles from "Invitation to Japan"
column in Asahi Evening News)
Keene 1994 Donald Keene
On Familiar Terms:
A Journey Across Cultures

Kodansha International, 1994

If remembered at all

Like Keene and many others, Seidensticker had trained as a language officer in preparation for service in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, in 1947, he completed a master's degree in politics at Columbia. After passing the Foreign Service exam, he spent some time at Yale and Harvard, grooming himself for a State Department assignment as a language officer in Tokyo, where he worked in the Economic Section of GHQ/SCAP and then in the consulate until 1950.

Seidensticker learned that Edwin O. Reischauer (1910-1990), who had been one of his professors, "had not given 'the Department' a glowing report on my year at Harvard" (Tokyo Central, page 44). Decades later he observed of Reischauer: "I liked him, but was by no means sure that I liked his performance as ambassador . . . [and] could not honestly share his views about Japan" (page 177). He remarks how Reischauer was "sanctified by the Japanese" and his house in Boston "turned into a shrine to which busloads of Japanese pilgrims are taken" (page 177). A four-page critique of Reischauer's ambassadorship (1961-1966) is interspersed with comments recorded in his diary entries at the time from friends at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo.

For his part, Keene first met Reischauer thinking he might not like him. But in On Familiar Terms he writes, "I could not have been more mistaken" (page 92). When Reischauer died, Keene realized they had embraced similar ideals and that he had unwittingly imitated the late ambassador. In a collection of articles he wrote in Japanese, he called Reischauer his "ikikata no moderu" [model in life] (Nihongo no bi [The Beauty of the Japanese Language], Chūō Kōron Sha, 1993, page 105). Keene's praise of Reischauer extended to Reischauer's self-appointed role as a bridge between the United States and Japan. "I gradually came to realize that there was something of the missionary in me too, and if my work is remembered at all it will probably be because of the books addressed to the general public, not my attempts at 'pure' scholarship (On Familiar Terms, page 94).

In 1964 Keene embarked on the writing of a new history of Japanese literature, to update, augment, and correct a history by W. G. Aston (1841-1911), which he had used as a student "often with irritation because of its old-fashioned judgments." In On Familiar Terms, commenting on the "lukewarm or worse" reception to the first volume, which appeared in 1976 under the title World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of the Pre-Modern Era (1600-1867), he confesses to having doubts about it, "and, indeed, all of my writings" (pages 269-272).

By 1991 he had published the other volumes in the series, but in the meantime, a new generation of specialists in Japanese literature had emerged, subjecting his work to its own standards of literary criticism. Commenting on the newer approaches to literature studies, he says, "When I read contemporary criticism, much of it phrased in language that I do not understand, I fear that I may have fallen hopelessly behind the times" (On Familiar Terms, page 272). This sentiment is shared by many of Keene's generational peers who "appreciated" the literature that some of the "next generation" preferred to "deconstruct." The battle between the philologists and the postmodernists is still raging.


Keene 2007 Donarudo Kiin
Watakushi to nijū seiki no kuronikuru
[ Chronicles of Me and the Twentieth Century ]
Chūō Kōron Shinsha, 2007
(Translation by Kakuchi Yukio of
Chronicles of My Life)Yosha Bunko scan
Donald Keene
Chronicles of My Life:
An American in the Heart of Japan

Columbia University Press, 2008

Yosha Bunko scans

Prolific in two languages

Scholars and writers are generally aware that the shelf lives of their books may be shorter than their own expiration dates. Neither Keene nor Seidensticker seems to have entertained delusions about leaving a definitive work. Yet both wrote reams of manuscript, as though to ensure that at least one publication would survive them.

In addition to their numerous translations, histories, biographies, and linguistic aids, they authored about three dozen books of more personal commentary -- most published only in Japanese, three in five of them by Keene -- compiled mainly from the hundreds of articles they cranked out for newspapers and magazines in Japan during their annual sojourns in Tokyo, where both owned homes. Most of their Japanese works are "translations" first published in Japan. Many of the English editions are afterthoughts for other markets.

Keene's Chronicles of My Life appeared first in Japanese as Watakushi to nijū-seiki no kuronikuru [Chronicles of Me and the Twentieth Century] (Chūō Kōron Sha, 2007). Both books contain the same articles Keene wrote in English for translation and publication in the Saturday morning edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun from 14 January to 23 December 2006, and for simultaneous publication in the Daily Yomiuri. I list the Yomiuri Shimbun first because I get the impression the column was intended to entice the paper's 10-million subscribers to also take the 40,000-circulation English edition, known for its bilingual features. The articles were translated by Kakuchi Yukio (b1948), Keene's principal translator for the past two decades.

On Familiar Terms has not been translated into Japanese, as many of the articles on which it was based had already been collected in Japanese publications. The most similar book is Kono hitosuji tsunagarite [Bound to This One Course] (Asahi Shimbun Sha, 1993), the title of which is from a Bashō poem that also appears in On Familiar Terms (page 79). The Japanese book is a collection of articles that had run in the Sunday edition of the Asahi Evening News from 7 January 1990 to 9 February 1992. They had been translated into Japanese by Kanaseki Hisao (1918-1996), a longtime friend and colleague who became one of Keene's main translators.

In On Familiar Terms Keene says, regarding another newspaper series: "I was enormously helped by the translator, Kanaseki Hisao, whom I had known for thirty years and who had once taught my courses at Columbia while I was on sabbatical leave" (page 276). In Chronicles of My Life he says only: "Although I wrote my manuscript in English, it was well translated by my friend Kanaseki Hisao" (page 152). This simplification of style and loss of detail invites my characterization of Chronicles (196 pages) as a somewhat updated but very diluted version of Terms (292 pages) -- the result, I suspect, of Keene having to squeeze more of his life into fewer words in a fixed number of write-to-space installments, while keeping in mind the Yomiuri's bilingual reader market.

Seidensticker handed his draft of Tokyo Central to Tetsuo Anzai (1933-2008), his principal translator, in 2000. The Japanese edition, poetically titled Nagareyuku hibi: Saidensutekkaa jiden [Passing Days: Seidensticker Autobiography], was published four years later (Jiji Tsūshin Sha, 2004). Anzai, a Shakespeare specialist, writes in his postscript that the Japanese version was supposed to have come out first, but illness delayed his work (page 417).


Keene 1996 Donald Keene
J. Thomas Rimer (ed)
The Blue-Eyed Tarokaja:
A Donald Keene Anthology

Columbia University Press, 1996
(Title adopted from, but content
not related to, Aoime no Tarokaja)
Seidensticker 2008 Edowaado·G·Saidensutekkaa
Yamaguchi Tesumi (ed)
Yanaka, hana to bochi
[ Yanaka, flowers and graves ]
Misuzu Shobō, 2008

Yosha Bunko scans

Memorabilia and momentos

Disciples and friends of Keene and Seidensticker have also been treading their publishing mills. J. Thomas Rimer, who had studied under Keene, gathered an impressive variety of his mentor's memorabilia in The Blue-Eyed Tarōkaja: A Donald Keene Anthology (Columbia University Press, 1996) -- which borrowed its title from, but is otherwise unrelated to, Keene's biographical Aoi me no Tarōkaja [Blue-eyed Tarōkaja] (Chūō Kōron Sha, 1957). A bilingual spin-off called Mō hitotsu no bokoku, Nihon e [To Japan, Another Motherland] in Japanese and Living in Two Countries in English (Kodansha International, 1999), recycles from the Rimer book the articles Keene had written in English for translation in the Japanese edition of Reader's Digest in the mid-1980s.

Rimer calls Aoi me no Tarōkaja the first book Keene published in Japan (page viii), apparently believing Keene (On Familiar Terms, page 181). In fact, it was Keene's second, following by several months the Japanese translation of the first edition of one of his finest books, The Japanese Discovery of Europe: Honda Toshiaki and Other Discoverers, 1720-1798 (U.K. edition 1952, U.S. edition 1954, Japanese edition 1957). If I had to throw away all but two books by Keene, I would keep Rimer's and the revised and expanded edition of The Japanese Discovery of Europe, first published in Japan in a totally new Japanese translation by Chūō Kōron Sha in 1968 -- a year before Stanford University Press brought out the newer English edition.

The year after Seidensticker's death in July 2007, the Yushima woodcut artist Yamaguchi Tetsumi, who called his friend and neighbor "Saiden-san," published Yanaka, hana to bochi [Yanaka, flowers and graves] (Misuzu Shobō, 2008) under Seidensticker's byline. In his postscript, Yamaguchi describes the book as a collection of articles Seidensticker had written, some in Japanese, for Ueno, a local magazine (page 202). In his blog, Yamaguchi affectionately remarks that his friend "was quite a trouble maker since his youth" and often quarreled with publishers. Yamaguchi's devotion to Seidensticker was clearly shown when he brought the writer's ashes from Tokyo to Honolulu (Yamaguchi's "tyama-117" blog, 2008-06-12).


"The next generation"

If Seidensticker cultivated the image of an outlaw, Keene went out of his way to appear to be a good guy. Still hearing, it seems, the accusing tones of an unidentified voice, he enters this plea (On Familiar Terms, pages 283-284). "I do not think I have ever 'sold out' to the Japanese in hopes of a reward or even merely of being liked; if I have made mistakes they were what my temperament dictated, not what I thought would bring me advantage."

Elsewhere he wears the hat of a fundraiser: "I hope that the Japanese government, recognizing that Japan has no better friends abroad than the Japanologists, will enable young people to create a fourth, a fifth, and many subsequent generations. (The Blue-Eyed Tarōkaja, page 81)

The academic and publishing worlds in which Keene has pursued his "missionary" goals are very political, and no one survives without bartering interests. From the very start of his engagement with Japan, Keene -- more like Reischauer than Seidensticker in getting along, being accepted, and cultivating followers -- has clearly leveraged his fame and popularity to bring advantage to himself and his causes.

Thanks to Keene's diplomatic skills, learned while growing up and polished during his earliest sojourns in Japan, Columbia University has become the largest hub for Japanese literature studies outside Japan. The Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture was established there in 1986. It is supported by endowments from several institutions with interests in promoting Japan -- including Shinchosha Publishing, which provides fellowships and sponsors a professorship.

Judging from the Keene Center's website, the center's supporters are rather adept at scratching each other's backs. Yet it is fitting that the Shincho Japanese literature chair created for Keene is now held by Haruo Shirane. Shortly after birth in Tokyo in 1950, Shirane accompanied his physicist father and pianist mother to the United States, where they eventually naturalized. Raised in English, he went to England to study English literature, but discovered Japanese literature in translation, and went on to get a doctorate at Columbia.

A protege of both Seidensticker and Keene, Shirane is the chief editor of Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600 (University of Columbia Press, 2006) and Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900 (University of Columbia, 2002). These thick compendia have essentially replaced Keene's epochal compilations, now half a century old -- Anthology of Japanese Literature: from the Earliest Era to the Mid-nineteenth Century (Grove Press, 1955) and Modern Japanese Literature (Grove Press, 1956).

In the caption to a photograph in Tokyo Central, Seidensticker describes Shirane as "one of my most gifted students" (facing page 59). Keene and Shirane were featured speakers at a February 2008 event held at Columbia University called "Edward Seidensticker (1918-2007): A Celebration of Lifetime Achievement in Japanese Literary Studies."


Naganuma 1943 N. Naganuma (Naganuma Naoe)
Hyōjun Nihongo Tokuhon: Kan ichi
[ The Standard Japanese Readers ] Book One
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1943
Yosha Bunko scan

Japanese Language School

Even before the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Japanese had become a strategic language for the United States. By the end of the nineteenth century, the U.S. had purchased Alaska, annexed the Hawaiian islands, and also nationalized the Philippine Islands. Shortly after Japan's victory over Russia, the U.S. government set up a three-year language training program in Tokyo for foreign service officers and U.S. Navy personnel, out of which came the Hyojun Nihongo Tokuhon (The Standard Japanese Readers) by Naoe Naganuma, who had became the school's chief instructor.

The school was pulled out of Tokyo in 1940 as diplomatic relations grew tense. After trial relocations at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley became its new home. In June 1942, however, the school, called the U.S. Navy Japanese Language School (JLS), moved to the University of Colorado in Boulder, as most of its instructors had been declared "enemy aliens" and, had they stayed, would have been interned in relocation centers outside the West Coast military zone.

Keene gives six pages in On Familiar Terms to his experiences at JLS at Berkeley, where his class matriculated (pages 14-19). He makes no mention of the fact that his class moved with the school to Boulder and graduated there. At the time of the move, Seidensticker was working at the library of the University of Colorado, his alma mater. He would never have studied Japanese had JLS not moved to Boulder. In Tokyo Central he expresses "astonishment" that Keene failed to mention "this event of such major importance to me [which] seems to have meant nothing at all to him" -- and that "neither Boulder nor Colorado is in the index" (page 19). Keene, as though he had never read Tokyo Central, retells in Chronicles of My Life essentially the same story he told in On Familiar Terms -- again with nary a word about Boulder or Colorado (pages 31-35).

Yet Keene could not have forgotten the move to Boulder. The Interpreter -- the newsletter of The Japanese Language School Project at the Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries -- carries a letter from "Donald Keene (JLS 1943)" that begins: "I am sending you some of my official papers as a naval officer. They are extremely boring, but perhaps they may be of use if anyone is interested in tracking where language officers went" (No. 68, 1 October 2003). An earlier issue reported that Seidensticker had begun depositing his papers in the library archives (No. 21, 1 May 2001).


Connecting the dots

Truth is not something one expects of an autobiography. Honesty is enough. And both Keene and Seidensticker are scrupulously honest in their quests to make entertaining sense of their lives as they age, alone, in their different public and private worlds. Autobiographies open journals and scrapbooks, drop names of friends and foes and famous others, disarm critics, set records straight, wax nostalgic and ideological, crack some private doors, conceal others. All of Keene's and Seidensticker's more personal commentary do one, some, or all of the above. But plunging into their books about themselves and Japan is to enter a bilingual hall of mirrors, some warped or broken, others attached to windcocks. A few stories change from one book or edition to the next, and a version in one language may be rephrased or censored in the other. And neither writer is an exception to the rule that authors should not be taken at their word, especially when reflecting on their own lives.

Keene grinds fewer old axes and is less gossipy, but depends on a faulty memory unaided by a diary. Seidensticker, consulting his diaries, thrives on repeating what he recorded others had told him, and is more anxious to settle old accounts. Although both wrote compulsively, Seidensticker's stories have more narrative bite than Keene's, more vicarious thrills per pound of pulp through tabloidesque expose of the "nastiness" (Tokyo Central, page 185) he witnessed behind the polite facade of life and academia.

Someone who never met these remarkable men might want to read their personal commentary in order to understand the ordinary human flaws of two individuals who seem, by their many contributions to the postwar development of Japanese literature in English, to be superhuman. For the present generation, their autobiographies are a bridge to a period when there were no laptops or cell phones, no on-line linguistic and bibliographic aids, no half-day trans-Pacific flights, and no college courses on manga.

Anyone who has learned Japanese in a classroom, at least in North America, or has studied anything about Japan in English anywhere, stands on the shoulders of luminaries like Keene and Seidensticker -- or others who graduated from JLS or other such schools, or who benefited from government-sponsored programs established in the name of national defense or international relations -- or on the shoulders of their children or grandchildren. Missionary roots also tangle with the lines that connect the historical dots of conflict and commerce between nations. Those of lesser stature who have crossed fleeting paths with such giants live in the shadows of their reflected glory, and sneak bits of their own stories into the legends.


Addenda to "Keene, Seidensticker, et al." and comments on former JLS teachers at UC Berkeley

English Journal Mishima the person

December 1978 issue of The English Journal featuring
Donald Keene cover story on "Mishima The Person"
English pages 17-21, Japanese pages 106-108
Interviewed by William Wetherall
Yosha Bunko scans

Donald Keene (1922-2019)

As a major in Oriental Languages then Japanese Studies, and finally Northeast Asian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, on and off campus between 1967 and 1982, I had of course been thoroughly exposed to Donald Keene's anthologies, translations, and commentaries. I was still an ABD (all-but dissertation) doctoral candidate in 1978 when The English Journal, where I was a part-time editor, asked me to interview him at his Tokyo condominium about his views of Mishima Yukio (三島由紀夫 1925-1970).

The interview took place a couple of months ahead of the 1 December publication of the December 1978 issue which featured Keene on its cover, possibly the only time that he has ever been a magazine "cover boy".

I was living with a family in Urawa and was working in Yotsuya, just a short walk from from where Mishima committed an assisted suicide on 25 November 1970. At the time I met Keene I was married, my then wife was expecting a child, and our daughter was born on 25 November, just days before Keene's cover story came out.

My doctoral dissertation research was on suicide in Japan, and I had amassed a considerable amount of material on Mishima and other writers who had killed themselves. So I couldn't resist kicking off the interview with this question.

[H]ow has Mishima's suicide affected Japanese society, particularly the young generation?"

Keene's answer did not surprise me.

I think that the impact of it, on the whole, has been slignt. . . . [4 sentences omitted] . . . I think that the effect of Mishima's suicide has probably been more extensive abroad than it has been in Japan.

"In what way?" I asked, and Keene related how, whenever he'd given a lecture in the United States, no matter the topic, someone was sure to ask him about Mishima. And he said he'd gotten more letters in response to an article he wrote for The New York Times about Mishima's death than he had to other things he'd written.

The interview continued in this vein. The EJ staff had given me a list of questions, which I rewrote on the way to Keene's residence. And it was understood that I would wing it when I had an opportunity to take the interview in an interesting direction.

At one point, Keene referred to Mishima as "the very ambitious, very eager-to-receive-awards Mishima", which gave me an opening I couldn't pass up.

E.J. [Wetherall]  He certainly did covet the Nobel Prize. Perhaps you have an opinion about Kawabata's suicide, as it comes in the wake of Mishima's suicide?

Keene:  I find it relatively easy to understand Mishima's suicide, I've written about it. But Kawabata's suicide baffles me, except if one interprets it as an act which was not really premeditated . . . .

Keene elaborated in great detail what he meant by this. And when he finished, I asked him how he would compare Dazai's death with Mishima's. He prefaced his views of Dazai with the remark that Dazai had died before he (Keene) arrived in Japan, and so he knew Dazai only through his writings and from friends who had known Dazai.

The "off mike" comments, written in Japanese by an editor who had accompanied me to the interview, reported that, after the interview, Keene showed us some of his collection of ceramics, stone rubbings, and other artifacts on display in his living room. I still have a fleeting memory of the room and his generous hospitality.

Keene's naturalization

In the fall of 2011, after retiring from Columbia University and moving to Japan, Keene applied for permission to naturalize in Japan as Kiinu Donarudo (キーン・ドナルド). Approval of his petition was reported in the 8 March 2012 edition of Kanpō (官報), the Official Gazette. The public notification marked the start of his legal status as a Japanese national, subject to his establishing a family register within 30 days, which he did later that day.

Some people have wondered if my naturalization in Japan was inspired by Keene's. The answer is no. I had collected materials on naturalization since the 1970s, and thoroughly researched and reported on naturalization procedures during the 1980s. By the late 1990s, when I first initiated my application, I had become acquainted with several people who had naturalized before or after I met them, including someone who had been a classmate at UC Berkeley, several of my own students at a vocational language school in Tokyo, some acquaintances I had met at various events, and a few close colleagues and friends. For family and other reasons, however, I did not finalize and file my application until late in December 2011. It was approved less than 6 months later -- in early June the following year, 3 months after the approval of Keene's application.

Of course I took considerable interest in Keene's naturalization, which was widely reported in mass media on the afternoon of the day his naturalation was officially announced. He promptly filed a notification of naturalization at Kita-ku municipal office, which authorized the ward to establish his family register. His comments at a press conference, held outside the ward office, reflected Keene's strong "I want to be loved by the Japanese people" sentiments.

I also had misgivings about Keene's remarks, at the same press conference, about having promised not to break any Japanese laws. This was part of the same oath that I also took when receiving an official copy of the notification of acceptance of my petition for permission to naturalize, from the director of the local legal affairs bureau which had handled my application.

Keene seemed to suggest that, now that he was Japanese, he would obey the laws of Japan. I took this to be an effort at humor, playing on reports in the news that foreigners committed more crimes than Japanese. Yet I felt the remark smacked of ignorance about, or insensitivity toward, criticism that Japanese news reports on crimes by foreigners in Japan were based on incomplete and poorly analyzed statistics.

Keene diary

Keene adopts Uehara Seiki

In 2013, the year after he naturalized, armed with a family register that enabled him to legally adopt other Japanese into his register, Donald Keene adopted his friend of several years, the bunraku shamisen player Uehara Seiki (上原誠己 b1950). Alliances of adoption, like alliances of marriage, require those who migrate to another register to share the family name of the register. Uehara Seiki thus became Kiinu Seiki (キーン誠己). As a shamisenist, he was also been known as Echigo Kakutayū (越後角太夫), and as Tsuruzawa Asazō V (五代目鶴澤浅造).

The two Keenes -- Donald and Seiki, foster father and adopted son -- coauthored a book brought out by Heibonsha in 2016 titled Kiinu diari (黄犬<キーヌ>ダイアリー). The characters used to represent "Kiinu" mean "yellow dog".

Kiinu Seiki became Kiinu Donarudo's secretary, cook, housekeeper, and general caregiver.

Donald Keene's death

Donald Keene died in a Tokyo hospital on the morning of 24 February 2019. Television networks showed flash news reports of his death, and some news programs that evening and the next morning led with his death.

Kiinu Seiki spoke about his foster father in numerous TV interviews shortly after his death. He presided over and spoke at the memorial service, and met the press after the service. He then helped organize, and appeared at, some some public events honoring Donald Keene's life and contributions to the spread of global interest in Japanese literature through English.

Unless a trust or will directs otherwise, formally adopted children inherit assets and liabilities under the same laws that apply to natural children. Donald Keene's estate has not been made public, but I would assume that he left it to Kiinu Seiki.

Kiinu Seiki in ensconced in the French department of the foreign languages division of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (東京外国語大学) [Tokyo School of Foreign Languages].


Keene 1957 Donarudo Kiin
Aoime no Tarokaja
Chūō Kōron Sha, 1957 [October]
(Preface by Tankizaki Jun'ichirō)
Yosha Bunko scan

Aoime no Tarokaja

This book, a collection of eleven articles Keene wrote for Japanese monthlies from 1955 to 1957, is probably the most important in his career -- and the least likely to be read outside Japan. Reprinted in several editions, most recently in bunko format, it established his reputation as a foreigner who took the people and culture of Japan seriously enough to master Japanese, and to participate in Japanese society rather than merely observe it.

To prove the sincerity of his desire to live shoulder to shoulder with Japanese, he rode in third-class cars like most Japanese, and otherwise threw himself into the daily life of the country. More importantly -- in the eyes of the literati and others who read Chūō kōron, the monthly magazine that originally published ten of the articles (the eleventh article appeared in Fujin kōron) -- he wrote all of the articles in Japanese.

The kanji and kana of Keene's articles and postscript reflect the language reforms that became official in 1954. The preface by Tanizaki Jun'ichiro (1886-1965), however, uses the older fonts and orthography, most likely out of deference to his wishes.

Tanizaki addresses Keene as "you" (君 kimi), by way of explaining Keene's growing fame and popularity (page 2, emphasis in original).

You say "For a westerner I am small, even for a Japanese I am not large" -- but this, too, is one reason which causes Japanese who have "the preconception that all westerners are giants" to regard you amiably.

Tanizaki is citing remarks made by Keene in Chapter 1, "Protesting preconceptions toward aliens". Chapter 2 is on "Things that prevent understanding of Japan's culture".

In the closing line of Chapter 3 -- "Introduction to literature" -- Keene refers to himself as "the writer of redhair" (紅毛の筆者は). This directly arcs to Chapter 4 -- "The hope and will of one redhairian" (一紅毛人の希望と意志) -- the title of which is echoed in its final line.


At the time of the Dutch-learning movement, Hollanders with no breeding were able to provide new knowledge about other countries to Japanese. Now, foreigners who wish to be useful to Japan feel that, rather than teach things to Japanese, it would be better to closely study the people [nationals] and culture of Japan and convey [these things] to other countries. This at least is the hope and will of one redhairian.

This is Keene's "mission statement" as an ambassdor for "Japanese studies" -- in 1957, five years after the end of the Occupation following a war that is still -- today, half a century later -- very much on the minds of not a few people, including Keene and many people of his generation.

Chapter 5 -- "Things purely Japanese [Japanesque]" (純粋に日本的なもの) -- problemitizes the definition of "purely Japanese" in the context of contemporary Japan. He concludes that authors who attempt to write "things purely Japanese" would probably fail -- because "present-day Japan is not Japanese". And adds this (page 61).

However, viewed more broadly, when a Japanese (日本人) writes seriously, no matter what the work -- and no matter how much its surface resembles a work of another country -- [the writer] oneself feels that [the work] becomes [is] Japanese. Thus considered, the worries of foreigners (外人) who say that things Japanese will vanish (なくなる), will probably be entirely useless.

At the time the 1957 book was published, "aoime" was a common term for anyone who was "seen" as a "Caucasian" hence "foreigner". Today it is much less frequently used, as more people consider it rude, on a par with "slant eyed" or "round eye".

"Red hair" appears again in Chapter 6 -- "Redhair Narrow Road to Oku" (紅毛奥の細道). "Red hair" and "red barbarian" (紅夷) were Edo-period labels for Hollanders, as opposed to Portuguese and Spaniards, who were called "southern barbarians" (南蛮). By extension they came to apply, like "red hair, blue eyes" (紅毛碧眼), to any categorical "Euro-American" (欧米人).

The "blue-eyed Tarōkaja" epithet was given Keene, he says in his afterword, by a news reporter who saw his kyōgen on a stage in Kyoto. After protesting, he turned to humor (page 169).

The truth is, because my eyes are not at all blue, whenever there was an opportunity I tried to demonstrate the brownness of my eyes. But, while protesting I realized the appropriateness of this nickname, and I came to no longer want to protest. After all, in terms of my temperament (性質), more than a daimyō who goes around imparting precepts and making proud statements, the role of a Tarōkaja who jocundly tries to achieve his own goals is more amiable to me. And because I have not yet completely dissolved into the society of Japan, certainly there are some "blue" places [in my eyes / about me] [確かに「碧い」ところがある].

Keene attributes his decision to write the articles in Japanese, he says at the end of the postcript, to "another aspect of the same will to participate" in Japanese society he came to feel when, through conversations with Nagai Michio, he gradually "departed from the standpoint of observation" he had brought with him to Japan.

His conclusion is pure Keene-esque (page 170).

Now and then I regret [my] existence as a Tarōkaja, but should my essays (論文) even a little succeed in shaking the previosuly held views (先有見) [apriori views, preconceptions] of Japanese toward foreigners, I won't mind if my research on Bashō falls behind.

Though he had already mastered the diplomacy of being an outsider who increasing feels he belongs inside the skin of Japan, as late as the 1980s, when writing the Reader's Digest pieces that begin and end Rimer's 1996 anthology, it is clear that Keene has continued to "resist" being treated "like" a Japanese -- rather than "as" a Japanese.


Keene 1952 Donald Keene
The Japanese Discovery of Europe:
Honda Toshiaki and Other Discoverers, 1720-1798

1952 R&KP UK edition
Yosha Bunko scan
Keene 1957 Donarudo Kiin
Nihonjin no seiyō hakken
[ Western-ocean discovery of Japanese ]
Kinseisha, 1957 [February]
(Translation by Fujita Yutaka and Ōnuma Masahiko)
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Keene 1968 Donarudo Kiin
Nihonjin no seiyō hakken
Chuo Koron Sha, 1968
(1973 4th printing of translation by Haga Tooru)
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Keene 1969 Donald Keene
The Japanese Discovery of Europe, 1720-1830
(Revised Edition)
Stanford University Press, 1969
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Japanese Discovery of Europe

Keene's master's thesis, which he wrote at Columbia, was on Honda Toshiaki (本多利明 1744-1821), an astronomer, mathematician, and economist ahead of his time. Keene revised the thesis into a book that was published first in the United Kingdom and later in the United States.

Donald Keene
The Japanese Discovery of Europe
(Honda Toshiaki and Other Discoverers, 1720-1798)
London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952 (1st UK edition)
New York: Grove Press, 1954 (1st US edition)

Keene's first book in Japanese, published in February 1957, was a translation of the UK edition. Keene makes this remark about the book in On Familiar Terms (page 122).

I never met anyone in the university who had actually read it. I did not realize at the time that this was normal in academic communities.

Yet in the late 1960s, Keene revised and expanded the book, with a new introduction, two new chapters, and mostly new illustrations. The then young historian Haga Tooru was sufficiently moved by Keene's illumination of the life and thought of Honda to entirely re-translate the new edition.

Haga wrote in his postscript that the following remarks had catalyzed his respect for Keene (Keene 1968:302-303).

A page of any one of Honda's writings would suffice to show that with him one has entered a new age, that of modern Japan. One finds in his books a new spirit, restless, curious and receptive. There is in him the wonder at new discoveries, the delight in widening horizons.

These remarks, which appear in the preface to the revised edition (Keene 1969:v), also reflect Keene's enthusiasm over the discovery of Asia and Japan.

Haga (b1930), now a professor emeritus at the [national] University of Tokyo and the [national] International Research Center for Japanese Studies, was then an assistant professor at Tokyo University, where he was making a name for himself in the field of comparative history. His postcript, which acknowledges the 1957 translation, ends on this note (Keene 1968:314).

The original book (原本) of this enlarged and revised edition . . . will be published next year from Stanford Univeristy Press. In other words, this Japanese translation will be published earlier than the original text (原書), but that too, very much like a book (本) of Mr. Keene, is nice.

September 1968   At Komaba [campus] under strife [during student protests]

Haga's translation thus went to press the year before Stanford University Press brought out the English version. A number of books that Keene and Seidensticker wrote in English came out first in Japanese.


Edward Seidensticker (1921-2007)

I met Edward Seidensticker a number of times at dinners hosted by a mutual friend, the journalist and photographer Karel van Wolferen, and at Karel's wedding, which Ed attended with Donald Richie. He and Richie lived near each other in the Yanaka area of Taitō ward in Tokyo.

Lithuanian sushi

Donald Keene's main grievance about his treatment in Japan appears to be the doubts some people harbor about his ability to read Japanese (Chronicles of My Life, Keene 2008, page 178).

If I have one complaint about my life in Japan, it is that many people, including some who have read my books, cannot believe that I read Japanese. When I am introduced after a lecture delivered in Japanese, some express apologies for not having a calling card in English or add katakana to help me read their names. A professor at Tokyo University commented about my history of Japanese, "I suppose you read in translation the works you discuss."

Keene goes on to admit he has no yearing for miso soup every morning for breakfast, and dreads the thought that he might end up in a retirement home in Japan that serves nothing but (Ibid., pages 179-180).

Seisensticker's sense of humor ran a bit differently. When wearing (as he often did) his "Nihonjinron" cap, he liked to poke fun at the English of Japanese who address him in ways he finds peculiar.

An essay called "Nihon" (日本) in Ueno (November 1999) explores what he considers excessive self-consciousness about a country that its nationals can't even agree on what to call -- Nihon, Nippon, Japan. Things have to be Japan this, Japan that, as in the way some people speak about things they consider Japanese.

He illustrates his point with an experience of how a stewardess addressed him -- in English because, he feels, she was trained to address passengers with "the face of a Westerner" in English, but those with "the face of an Easterner" in Japanese (my translation from Yanaka, hana to bochi, 2008, 86-87).

The stewardess (スチュワーデス) asked me in English, "Would you like Japanese sushi?" Hearing this, the somewhat perverse American friend sitting beside me inquired in return deadpan in Japanese, "Nihon no sushi (鮨) wa dame da. Burugaria no sushi wa nai ka?" And the stewardess girl (スチュワーデス嬢) in question replied in the same [unchanged] English, "I am sorry, we have only Japanese sushi." It would seem she didn't realize it was a joke.

In an article called "Nihon no tabemono" (日本の食べ物) in Eiyō to ryōri (Joshi Eiyō Tandai, August 1972), he told a similar story (my translation, from translation by Anzai Tetsuo in Yushima no yado ni te, 1976, pages 161-162).

I was intently (夢中で) eating sushi (スシ). Next to me a Japanese was also intently eating sushi. The man asked me this:

"Nihon no sushi wa o-suki desu ka."
[ "Do you like sushi of Japan?" ]

There are various ways to reply.

One of my tradmark replies is like this:

"Nihon no sushi to iu no wa, Ruumania no sushi to ka Ritoania no sushi de wa naku, Nihon no sushi to iu imi desu ka."
[ "By sushi of Japan, do you mean not sushi of Romania or sushi of Lithuania, but sushi of Japan?" ]

This reply does not often get through. The other party (相手) falls vacantly silent.

At times I give this reply: "Iie." [ No. ] And continue eating sushi intently as before [unchanged].

This, however, is actually a very good reply. Japanese men -- meaning that, my getting wrapped into this kind of conversation, is limited to times when the other party is a man -- apparently feel a kind of masochistic pleasure in this kind of reply.

Seidensticker goes on to develop the unoriginal idea that Japanese enjoy believing that Japan is a nation of 100 million masochists who love to hear foreigners say they don't like certain Japanese foods. "Japanese should stop asking foreign guests if they can eat raw fish," he concludes, "and just serve really delicious raw fish."


"Snow Country" discussions

Ed and I exchanged a couple of letters related to two matters -- a book I loaned him, which he needed to review but lacked a copy -- and his translation of Kawabata's Yukiguni, which I thought was good but could have been better. We also talked about Yukiguni a couple of times on the phone.

Ed was predictably himself in his response to my comments that I thought his approach to translation sometimes resulted in English that, while good and even beautiful in its own right, sometimes failed to capture the logic, power, and grace of Kawabata's Japanese. Ed had strong opinions about the translations of others, and about the efforts of others to translate parts of Yukiguni or related works. And on several occasions, he argued in writing against suggestions that he retranslate certain works, such as Kagerō nikki, a late 10th century literary diary he translated as The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan, first published in 1964.

Seidensticker in fact did retranslate a few phrases in Snow Country for a private publication, and gave me a couple of examples of what he himself acknowledged were trivial changes. He felt there was nothing to gain by retranslating the work, and had no intention of giving up his translation rights to accommodate the desire of others who would have liked to have a chance at a new version.

Part of Ed's defensiveness is understandable. Readers of English who know the Japanese text will usually agree that, overall, his translation does justice to the story. It was, after all, Snow Country, and Ed's translation of Senbazura as A Thousand Cranes, that resulted in Kawabata receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Both translations read better than well enough in English. Why fix narrative features that might depart from Kawabata's style? English is English, and Japanese is Japanese, and there is no reason to attempt to mimic in English the finer elements of Kawabata's Japanese.

However, many great works of Japanese literature -- classical and modern -- have been retranslated a number of times. Comparisons show that some translations are better than others. And a number of literary issues are at stake. See, for example, Botchan: Translation rush or glut? and Murakami Haruki's Lost Voice: Translating narrative style.

See The light at the end: Kawabata Yasunari's "Yukiguni" for my analysis of Kawabata's translation, compared with partial translations of others, and my owns structural translations of selected parts of not only the final version of Yukiguni but also parts that were cut from early versions. This article includes specifics about my exchanges with Seidensticker and his comments in various articles on his translation.


et al.

At one time or another I have met several of the other contributors to the 100 Things Japanese volumes. The two contributors who would have the most influence on my life as a writer were Donald Richie and Lynne Riggs.


I never met Reischauer but not because I didn't have any opportunities. I participated in the selection of the 13 films featured in 1974 PBS television series The Japanese Film (see below), produced by KQED in San Francisco, in cooperation with the Pacific Film Archive (PFA). I also participated in and contributed to the writing and editing of an official anthropological guide to Japanese society for the series.

Reischauer was the moderator of the series. Keene, Seidensticker, and others in the contemporary who's who of Japanology, appeared as guest commentators. Reischauer was one of the two guests of honor at a dinner, held on 3 January 1975 at the University Art Museum (UAM), celebrating the completion of The Japanese Film. UAM adjoined PFA. The two institutions are now jointly housed and called BAMPFA -- Berkeley Art Museaum & Pacific Film Archive.

I received a formal invitation to the dinner but begged off. I was then, and am still, a bit of a recluse, hermit, sociophobe who doesn't like to dress up. Someone who went told me "Reischauer is very short." And yet his shoulders were those of a giant.

Kamata 1997 Kamata's The Broken Bridge, 1997
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Richie 2005 Richie's Japan Journals, 2005
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Donald Richie (1924-2013)

Film and art critic, novelist, writer

As many people as I have known who knew and were close to Donald Richie, including Ian Buruma and Karel van Wolferen, I met Richie only a couple of times -- the second time at Karel van Wolferen's wedding, where he and Seidenstricker arrived together (they lived near each other in the Yanaka area of Taitō ward in Tokyo) -- the first time at a dinner which Leza Lowitz and Eric Feldman hosted at their residence in Nasu. Richie and I left a bit early and shared a seat on a Tokyo-bound train.

The invitation came about through my acquaintance with Eric, then a Boalt Hall law student at UC Berkeley doing research in Japan. Liza was a poet and translator and a friend of Richie. She would later edit his journals, which were published as The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 by Stone Bridge Press in 2005.

After finding adjoining seats on the fairly crowded train, Richie and I continued conversing for a few minutes, then he said he had some work to finish before the next morning, and wondered if I would help him. He pulled the preliminary galleys of a couple of articles out of his bag, passed a handful of pages to me, and told me to mark anything that needed fixing. For the next hour or so we engrossed ourselves in editing, oblivious to the mostly dark countryside puncutated by lit-up towns and stations. Shortly after this, I received a note from Richie congratulating me on the start of my Boundaries series of short-short stories in The Daily Mainichi.

Both Lowitz and Richie were aware that I had written some stories for the Asiaweek Short Story Competition, including two 3rd place winners, and a story for Kyoto Journal. And later I received an invitation from Suzanne Kamata to contribute to an anthology that she was preparing, which Richie would introduce. Lowitz, who also contributed to the book, was instrumental in putting Kamata and Richie together. The Broken Bridge, with my story The Reunion, was published by Stone Bridge Press in 1997.

SWET Newsletter November 2008 issue of SWET Newsletter
Featuring articles on J-E translation
Edited by Lynne E. Riggs and others
Yosha Bunko scan
Shishi 1951 Dust jacket of Lynne Riggs's translation 2006 translation of
Shishi Bunroku's Jiyū gakkō, 1951
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Lynne Riggs

Editor, translator, writer

Lynne E. Riggs is known by everyone who has been involved in writing about Japan, translating from Japanese to English, and editing English journals, magazines, and books related to Japan. She is a co-founder in 1990 of Center for International Communication. CIC became the successor of the Center for Social Science Communication, which was founded in 1970 and published Japan Interpreter from 1970 to 1980. CIC became the custodian of TJI's main staff reference library and it's back number stock, and continued to provide translation and other services to some of CSSC's clients.

For many years, Lynne was the managing editor of Sophia University's Monumenta Nipponica. She was also one of the foundering members of the Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators, and became the most important editor of SWET Newsletter, to which I occasionally contributed, and invariably learned a lot from Lynne's red pencilling.

Lynne has translated mostly non-fiction, but is known for her English version Jiyū gakkō (自由学校), by Shishi Bunroku (獅子文六 1893-1969), the penname of Iwata Toyoo (岩田豊雄). The novel was published in 1951 after serializtion in Asahi shinbun the previous year.

Shishi Bunroku
School of Freedom
Translated and with an Afterword by Lynne E. Riggs
Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan, 2006
Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies, Number 58
256 pages, hardcover, dust jacket

Lynne kindly gave me an autographed copy dated December 2008, in which she enclosed a note dated 12-25-08 thanking me for my "long [read "winding and windy"] email w/ thoughts on Yassa mossa and Musume to watashi" -- about which she replied in length at a later date. See Mixed blood stories in fiction and poetry for my assessments of Yassa mossa and Musume to watashi, the later of which is Shishi's novelization of his life as the father of a daughter born to his French wife, who died when their daughter was still very young.

In our conversations, Lynne and I -- who have little in common other than our interest in wordsmithing -- discovered that both her father and I had studied electrical engineering and worked in hospitals earlier in our lives. When I said I was partly raised in Grass Valley, California, my mouth dropped -- after her mouth dropped and said that her sister lived there -- it turned out not far from my sister -- and that she had visited her sister there a couple of times. We wondered how many people in Japan had ever heard of Grass Valley, much less had family there -- and marvelled how, against the odds, we had crossed paths.


My language and literature teachers at Berkeley

Here I will talk a bit about all the faculty who were involved in my language and literature education at Berkeley, not all of them language or literature teachers.

I had been an Electrical Engineering major in the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley in the early 1960s. After a period of service in the US Army as a medical corpsman and hospital laboratory technician, I returned to Berkeley in 1967 as an Oriental Languages major in the College of Letters and Science. I studied both Japanese and Chinese, then also Korean, but concentrated on Japanese.

In my senior year, I petitioned for an individual interdepartmental major in Japanese Studies that allowed me to combine courses in the OL and other departments in a way that allowed me to graduate in 1969. By 1972 I was back at Berkeley in the out-of-the-box Japanese Studies MA program in the Group in Asian Studies. I satisfied the interdepartmental requirements with one foot in Anthropology and the other foot in Oriental Languages.

I completed the MA with a written exam in 1973 and continued into a PhD program in Northeast Asian Studies. This was not an off-the-shelf program but one I configured with the help of faculty members who agreed to support my petition to let me pursue such a program and oversee my work. George De Vos (1922-2010) in Anthropology, and Bill McCullough (1928-1997) and Frank Motofuji (1919-2006) in Oriental Languages, were my principle supervisors. Wolfram Eberhard (1909-1989) in Sociology and Delmer Brown (1909-2011) in history joined the committee as outside examiners.

Among the committee members, my principle mentors were George De Vos and Bill McCullough (see below). De Vos was especially good at perceiving the complexities of human personality -- how individuals survive in their complex social environments. He worked at the "psychocultural" crossroads of anthropology and psychology and focused on conditions and behaviors that represent problems for individuals and societies -- racial and ethnic minorities, delinquency, suicide, poverty. Wolfram Eberhard, who amassed much of his vast knowledge through years of immersion in life in Asia and other parts of the world, was a Sinologist and anthropologist in the Department of Sociology. I never took a course from him, but his door was open, he loved to tell stories, and he even corresponded with me on the subject of suicide in China and introduced me to others of like interest. Frank Motofuji (see below) was instrumental in developing my interests in translating Japanese fiction. Delmer Brown, while administratively supportive, expected me to be an historian in his mold, which did not appeal to me, and so my contact with him was limited to a single seminar and my oral exams.

One of the more influential professors in my life at Berkeley, though I was not one of his students, and in fact never took a course from him, was Chalmers Ashby Johnson 1931-2010), who was both a Japan and China specialist. Chalmers Johnson as he was generally known stayed as a professor in the Department of Political Science from 1962-1992 after obtaining his MA and PhD in the department in 1957 and 1961.

Johnson met and married Sheila K. Johnson (b1937) when both were students, she an undergraduate in the Department of Anthropology, and he a freshly minted MA then studying for his doctorate. Sheila, who was born in The Netherlands and migrated to the United States in 1947, went on to get a PhD in anthropology, and an MA in English, both at Berkeley. I did not know Sheila while I was at Berkeley, but became acquainted with her after I had settled in Japan, on occasions when she came to Japan with Chalmers.

Chalmers had the image of a "conservative" opinionist while I was a student at Berkeley. I knew other students who had taken a course or two from him, and who were "leftists", and as such they harbored grudges about what they considered his "rightist" views of Japan and China. My impression is that Chalmers became less conservative, and even a bit radical, later in his career, especially after he "retired" from UC Berkeley and took a chair at UC San Diego.

From about this point he began to allege that the imperial ambitions of the United States were a threat to the world. The United States maintained more than 700 military bases, several of them in Japan. He concluded that Okinawa was essentially an occupied territory.

Sheila, writing a year after his death, began with this remark about his life (Sheila K. Johnson, "The Blowback World of Chalmers Johnson: Remembering the Man and His Work",, 10 April 2011).

In going through my husband's files, books, and papers after his death, I've been forcibly struck by two things. First, contrary to what many of his obituaries said, his writings and thoughts were remarkably consistent throughout his life. In other words, he was not a right-winger who became more liberal and outspoken as he got older. More than most people suspected, he was a radical all along, whose intellectual impulses were tempered only by his birth in the Depression year of 1931 and his determination to make a decent living without "joining the establishment." Second -- and it was an unavoidable recollection -- he worked with manic energy and maniacally hard all his life.

I can testify to his maniacal enthusiasm. No room I was in with Chalmers ever fell silent. His lectures never induced sleep. If no one spoke, he kept talking until he provoked someone to speak.

As for Sheila's impression that her late husband was determined not to live without "joining the establishment", Sheila fails to mention that, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was a consultant for the CIA. She testifies to a streak of radicalism that apparently Chalmers cloaked for many years. She stops short of claiming that he supported the Free Speech Movement in 1964-1965, or the antiwar and ethnic studies movements mounted by the Third World Liberation Front and other groups from the late 1960s. Her comment is "safe" because "radicalism" is a relative term. Compared to "rightists" he could be called "radical". But I don't believe he ever qualified as a "radical" by Berkeley standards. As a well-informed political scientist and recognized expert on Communist China, he was totally familiar with leftist thought, but ideologically, he himself was nowhere near the left. I would call him a "radical conservative" in the sense that he believed in the truer "conservatism" that eschewed the "radical imperialism" of America's "military-industrial complex".

I was not one of Johnson's students, but since he was the chair of the Group in Asian Studies throughout the period that I was getting my MA and PhD under the auspices of the group, I occasionally attended his lectures. He was instrumental in approving my petition for admission to a PhD program in the group, which did not then have an active program.

Despite my lack of interest in the field of political science, Johnson did not chase me out of his office when we finished the administrative business at hand. He kindly engaged me in conversation about my studies, and responded to questions I had about his research and other activities.

"Professor Johnson" later became "Chal" and, after settling in Japan, I introduced him to Karel van Wolferen, a journalist, writer, and photographer who was then based in Tokyo. I had met Karel through George De Vos at Berkeley, and we had become close friends. Karel and Chalmers knew of each other but had never met.

The Johnsons visited Karel during their excursions to Japan, and at times they stayed at his home. Karel's home was a sort of "embassy" and he was its resident ambassador. He hosted many small dinner gatherings for his circle of local friends, mainly journalists and scholars of various fields and nationalities, but also other people who might be in town, such as the Johnsons, or De Vos and his wife Suzanne, who also at times stayed at his home. English was the lingua franca, but other tongues also wagged, including Japanese and Dutch. Karel sometimes broke into Dutch when Ian Burma, Sheila Johnson, or another Dutch or Dutch-speaking friend was there.

I interviewed Chalmers in his office at Berkeley for a magazine in Japan, and saw him a few times after he moved to San Diego, at Karel's home in Tokyo. We also exchanged some email concerning his Japan Policy Research Institute, which for a while I supported as a subscriber.


Haruo Aoki Haruo Aoki in his Durant Hall office
University of California, Berkeley
Tuesday morning, 27 September 1977
Photograph by William Wetherall

Haruo Aoki

My elementary Japanese teacher was Haruo Aoki. Aoki's blackboard calligraphy was elegant, and he could do it backhanded, while facing the class.

Aoki also taught all the departmental courses on Japanese linguistics, and they were my favorites. He invited a number of colleagues in the linguististics department to give guest lectures in his Japanese linguistics seminars. The guests included Denzel Carr, a Malay-Polynesian specialist who was originally trained in Japanese (see Elizabeth Carr below), and James Matisoff (b1937), a Southeast Asian language specialist, particularly of Tibeto-Burman and Tai, who also knew Chinese and Japanese. Matisoff met his wife, Susan Matisoff, at Harvard. She became a student of Keene at Columbia, then a professor of Japanese literature at Stanford University, and later joined the faculty of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Berkeley.

Aoki's academic speciality, however, was North American Languages, and he was the foremost curator of the Nez Perce language. Aoki's work greatly interested me, because my mother was born and raised on the Nez Perce Reservation in the Clear Water area of Idaho, and Aoki had done his field work around some of the small towns in the same part of Idaho where I had spent parts of some summers when a boy.

My maternal great grandparents had homesteaded on the Nez Perce Reservation when it was opened for settlement in the late 1890s. The menfolk in my ancestral families hunted, and the families traded with Nez Perce parties that passed through their homesteads to and from the hunting grounds. My grandfather had learned to ride a pony Nez Perce style, and my mother's family dogs had Nez Perce names, according to tape recordings I made in the 1970s of my grandmother and her sisters, and of my mother and her sister, talking about their lives on Central Ridge.

The photograph of Aoki to the right is one of several I took of him in his office in Durant Hall, between 9 and 10 on the morning of Tuesday, 27 September 1977, after taping an interview with him for a Japanese magazine. His office looked out on Wheeler Hall to the east, to his right, and the lighting was good. On the wall to his left is a portrait of Nez Perce Chief Joseph. The interview -- "The Nez Perce Indians: A North American People" -- appeared in the July 1979 issue of The English Journal (Volume 9, Number 8, Issue 107, English transcription and annotations pages 72-76, Japanese translation pages 102-103).

Aoki's life

Aoki was born in Kunsan (群山) in Korea (Chōsen 朝鮮) in 1930, and grew up on the peninsula, sometimes speaking Korean (Chosenese 朝鮮語) in addition to Japanese. His maternal grandfather, who had settled in Kunsan in 1910, was a carpenter and cartwright. His mother joined her family there in 1921. His father, a grain inspector in Kunsan, would eventually marry into the Aoki family.

Aoki would later say "Korea" when asked in English where he was from. Kunsan was in every sense of the word his "home town" and Chōsen (as "Korea" was then called) his "home country" in the "local identity" senses of these expressions. His first publication in an American journal was "A Hitchhiking Ghost in Korea" (Western Folklore, Volume 13, 1954, pages 280-281), about a story he had heard around 1941 when growing up in Kunsan.

See Aoki's autobiography, Stories from My Life (2014), for details.
The Japanese script and some other clarifications are mine.

On the 1st day of July 1945, Aoki arrived at the Navy Hōfu Communications School (Kaigun Hōfu tsūshin Gakkō 海軍防府通信学校) at the Imperial Japanese Navy base and airfield near Mitajiri (三田尻), in presentday Hōfu city in Yamaguchi prefecture, which happened to be his mother's home prefecture. He had taken an exam to be a pilot, and after his basic training he would be trained as a member of the suicidal Tokkōtai (特攻隊) or "Special Assault Unit", known for its air and submarine divisions. However, he was slated for training as a member of its ground forces, which were then being readied to resist the expected land invasion of the main islands.

The Hōfu base, including Aoki's quarters, was subjected to air raids. One morning, standing outside an air raid shelter, unable to enter because it was already full, he having been at the back of the formation that had run to the shelter, Aoki saw a flash in the sky that he later learned had been the explosion of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, 90 kilometers away as the crow flies. That was 6 August 1945. By 15 August, the war was tentatively over and Aoki was soon demobilized.

Aoki finished high school in Nagasaki in 1947, passed an exam to study at Hiroshima University in 1948, and graduated with a degree in English in March 1953 and a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States. A "Manifest of In-bound Passengers (Aliens)" for the Hikawa Maru, which had sailed from Yokohama on 28 July 1953 and arrived at the Port of Seattle on 10 August 1953, shows that "Aoki Haruo 23 M University of California Berkeley, California" was admitted on a "J" (academic, student exchange) visa permitting him to stay for 1 year. After an orientation at the University of Washington, Aoki took a train to Portland, then the Shasta Daylight from Portland to Oakland. But rather than going to Berkeley, he continued on a southbound train to study at the University of California at Los Angeles.

When leaving for the United States, Aoki had thought he would be staying only a year, but the year stretched into a lifetime. At UCLA, he mixed his studies in the English department with work to support himself while waiting for the formation of a linguistics department. But in 1958, it had still not formed, so he settled for an MA in English and transferred to the Department of Linguistics at Berkeley to begin a doctoral program. When moving to Berkeley, he married a woman he had dated in Los Angeles.

By the end of 1959, Aoki had been advanced to candidancy. He needed only to write a dissertation, but for this he needed to do field world, and for field work he needed a language. The language turned out to be Nez Perce, so he needed to do his field work in Idaho. Now he had only to figure out where Idaho was, and to learn how to drive in order to get there.

Aoki began his field work in the summer of 1960. Over the next few years, he made many sojourns to Idaho in order to learn the Nez Perce language, which was spoken by related bands of Nez Perce in a territory centering on what is now the Clearwater River Basin in western central Idaho in the vicinity of northeast Oregon and southeast Washington. He finished his doctorate in 1965 and accepted a post in the then Department of Oriental Languages (now the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures), where he taught Japanese while pursuing his Nez Perce studies.

My studies of Japanese began with Aoki's introductory Japanese course in the fall of 1967. His first words on the first day of class were to the effect that Japanese couldn't be difficult, because all Japanese speak, read, and write it, and half of all-Japanese are stupid. He chalked beautiful calligraphy, even cursive, on the blackboard, backhanded. I was probably the only student in his class who recognized the one-store towns where he had done his field work, as my mother had grown up on a farm, which she called a ranch, on land her paternal grandparents had homestead on the original Nez Perce reservation, and I had spent a couple of summers in these towns.

The sweep of history

Aoki's story is not unrelated to the stories of those who taught or studied Japanese during the Pacific War. At the time, he was an enemy in the eyes of the United States and the other Allied Powers. Had the Pacific War war continued, he would have been among the ground forces suicidally committed to defend the homeland against the invasion the Allied Powers were preparing to launch in the event that Japan did not unconditionally surrender.

Aoki was born in Chōsen, to parents who had settled there -- in some sense because of the Opium Wars and Mexican-American War, both of which contributed to the geopolitical conditions that resulted in the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895, the Spanish-American War and America's nationalization of the Philippine Islands in 1898, America's annexaction of Hawaii the same year, the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905, and the Empire of Japan's annexation of the Empire of Korea as Chōsen in 1910.

Then came the Manchurian and Marco Polo Bridge incidents -- the bombing of Shanghai, which took the life of Edwin Reischauer's older brother Robert -- and Pearl Harbor, which turned another page of history that would lead Aoki to America. The Pacific War -- and civil wars in China, Korea, and Vietnam after World War II -- are among the geopolitical events that contributed to my own encounters with Asia when growing up, and would lead me to begin my studies of Japanese with Aoki in 1967.

The Nez Perce War of 1877, which ended when Chief Joseph surrendered to the US Cavalry, about a month after Saigō Takamori (西郷隆盛 1828-1877) took his life in the final days of the Seinan War in Kyūshū, also had a great deal to do with my crossing paths with Aoki -- such are the lines that connect the dots of human history.


My last communication with Aoki was in January 2022. For several years, he had sent New Year's greetings, timed to the solar calendar, with an attachment of a humourous card he had drawn himself, often featuring a steam train. His hand was clearly getting shakier, but his wit remained as sharp as ever. He would send his greetings to arrive by the 1st of January in Japan, and I would send mine later that day with an attachment of a photo I would take of the sunrise that morning.

This year, there was no mail from Aoki, but I sent the photo I had taken with the usual "Akemashite" greeting, and added that I hoped he was well. A couple of days later he replied with a card and poem, sans the usual greeting. The card formally announced that his brother had died and so he would not be celebrating the coming of the new year. The poem was a popular adaptation of a well-known waka attributed to Ikkyū Sōjun (一休宗純 1394-1481). Aoki's adaptation, with my romanization and translation, are as follows.


Shōchiku wa meido no tabi no ichirizuka
     Medetaku mo ari, medetaku mo nashi

Pine and bamboo [new year decorations] [are] milestones of travels on the dark road [in the next life] --
     there is joy [as one may live to see another spring], and there is not joy [as life has gotten a year shorter]

Aoki's card included the perfunctory remark that he looked forward to resuming contact after the New Year's reclusion had passed, so I waited. When no mail came by his 92nd birthday in spring, I sent him a greeting with some remarks on the war in Ukraine. I wondered if the bridge crossing the Dniester river near Mohyliv-Podil'skyi would survive. One of the first attachments he sent after contacting me in 2017 was a photograph of a steam locomotive pulling a train across the bridge. The photo was one of his favorites.

When summer came and still there was no reply -- Aoki always responded, even if only briefly -- I suspected that perhaps he had had another stroke, possibly fatal. Searching the Internet, I found a couple of notifications that he had died on 24 February 2022 -- the day Russia invaded Ukraine. News of the war, if he heard it before he passed away -- peacefully I am told by one of his daughters -- would have saddened but not surprised him. He understood the fragility of peace and the vanities that drive naked nationalism. He witnessed the coming of 91 on the solar calendar but 92 springs on the lunar calendar.

I recall once writing, in late February or early March, that spring was almost here. Aoki replied that it had already come and gone -- according to the Chinese solar calendar, which divides the year into 24 seasons. The first is Risshun (立春) or "start of spring" -- which lasts roughly 15 days, beginning on the 3rd or 4th of February on the solar calendar and ending on the 18th of February.

My relatives crossed paths with your benefactors in Idaho.
I first met you as a student in your classes at Berkeley.
More recently we shared interests in steam locomotives.

Thank you for your mentorship and friendship.
May our paths cross again in the next world.
Regards to coyotes and hitchhiking ghosts.

Stories from My Life

In 2014, Aoki contributed his Nez Perce and other research materials to the California Language Archive at Berkeley.

The CLA collection includes a 302-page autobiography of his unusual life, Stories from My Life, which Aoki compiled with the help of a friend, the partly Berkeley-raised-and-educated folk and bluegrass singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist Mayne Smith (b1939).

The biography begins with Aoki's birth and childhood in Chōsen in 1930 (hence his proficiency in Korean), his military posting to Hōfu in time to see the flash over Hiroshima, and his English studies in Occupied Japan, which led him to the United States and his highly acclaimed documentation of the Nez Perce language and its oral lore. Smith is the son of the Berkeley-based American culture and literature scholar Henry Nash Smith (1906-1986).

Haruo Aoki's Stories from My Life (2014) can be downloaded as a pdf file from the California Language Archive of the University of California, where the item is described as follows (viewed 19 November 2017).

Stories from My Life (2014)

Item number: 2014-12.003.008
Contributor: Haruo Aoki (author)
Extent: 1 bound volume (302 pages) and 1 data CD
Description: Haruo Aoki’s comprehensive autobiography containing stories from childhood throughout adulthood; the stories relate to Aoki’s personal life, family, research context, and academic life. Contains illustrations and photos.
Associated materials: Audio recordings associated with the Papers can be accessed online through the California Language Archive website. In particular, audio recordings are located in "The Haruo Aoki collection of Nez Perce sound recordings" (LA 70), "The Deward Walker collection of Nez Perce sound recordings" (LA 231), and "The Sven Liljeblad collection of Nez Perce sound recordings" (LA 234).
Collection: Haruo Aoki Papers on the Nez Perce Language
Repository: Survey of California and Other Indian Languages
Preferred citation: Stories from My Life, 2014-12.003.008, Survey of California and Other Indian Languages, University of California, Berkeley,

Washington Post anecdote

More recently, Aoki's story has been spread by the author, humorist, and radio personality Garrison Keillor (b1942), in an article titled A man walks into a bar in Oregon, which was posted by The Washington Post on 24 October 2017.

UCB tribute by Nez Perce scholars

Even more recently, at a luncheon held in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley on 8 November 2017, Aoki was honored by some Nez Perce scholars "for helping to connect them to the language of their ancestors" as UCB Media Relations writer Yasmin Anwar put it in Japan-born linguist honored for writing the book on Nez Perce, a tribute to Aoki posted on UCB's website the following day.

Aoki's most interesting book

The first edition of Horobiyuku kotoba o otte (滅びゆくことばを追って) [Pursuing a dying language] was published in 1972, the year I returned to Berkeley for graduate school. In the book, he humorously relates the difficulties he had getting a California driver license, which he needed to get from Berkeley to Idaho, in order to conduct field work on the Nez Perce language for his doctorate in linguistics.

After a couple of tries, he finally got a license and headed for Idaho. There are several ways to get to central northern Idaho from the Bay Area in California, but the easiest route by car was over the Sierras to Reno then north. Today you would drive east to Reno on Interstate 80. In 1960, you drove east on Highway 40, a totally different class of road.

Insterstate 80 replaced most of Highway 40 and paralled most of what was left of the older road. Both cross the Sierras at Donner Pass, named after the Donner Party, a group of settlers from the east that was caught just east of the lake by heavy snow storms in late November 1846. The party was forced to stop, with limited supplies of food, and was not relieved until February the following year. During the ordeal, some members died, and some others survived on their flesh.

Aoki 1972 Aoki 1972 Aoki 1984 Aoki 1984 Aoki 1998 Aoki 1998

1972 Sanseidō edition
Indian buraku e, Lake Tahoe

1984 Sanseidō edition
Indian buraku e, Donner Lake

1998 Iwanami Shoten edition
Indian buraku e, Clearwater River

Three editions of Horobiyuku kotoba showing changes in frontpieces and captions (Yosha Bunko scans)

See Hiking Donner snow sheds in 1963 in the Photography section of the Wetherall website for photographs and stories about Donner Lake.

In any event, the frontispiece of Horobiyuku kotoba o otte (滅びゆくことばを追って) [Pursuing a dying language], which was published in 1972, shows a photograph of a lake Aoki identified as "Tahoo ko" (タホー湖) or "Lake Tahoe". However, the lake in the photograph was Donner Lake. The caption was changed to "Donaa ko" (ドナー湖) in the 1984 second edition, and in the epilogue (page 226) he credits one of his students for pointing out the error. Until recently (2020-09-05 email) I thought he might be referring to me, since when interviewing him in 1979 I pointed out that the caption should be "Donner Lake". But another student, Steffan Richards, and possibly others, had already told him. The frontispiece of the 1998 edition has a photograph of the Clearwater River, which practically defines Nez Perce territory, and the photograph of Donner Lake is shown on the page facing the map of the route Aoki drove from Berkeley, via Reno, Boise, and Lewiston, to Kooskia, at the confluence of the south and middle forks of the Clearwater. My mother was born on Central Ridge though her birth was registered at Peck. Both are along the Clearwater, about halfway between Lewiston and Kooskia. At Lewiston, the Clearwater River joins the Snake River, which joins the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean, which connects the Americas with Asia.


Aoki Wallace

Front of slipcase of Haruo Aoki's translation of
Wallace L. Chafe's Meaning and the Structure of Language
Yosha Bunko scan

Wallace on thoughts and sounds

Wallace L. Chafe (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Thought-based Linguistics: How Languages Turn Thoughts into Sounds
United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 17 September 2020
209 pages, paper cover

The extent to which language is inseparable from thought has long been a major subject of debate across linguistics, psychology, philosophy and other disciplines. In this study, Wallace Chafe presents a thought-based theory of language that goes beyond traditional views that semantics, syntax, and sounds are sufficient to account for language design. Language begins with thoughts in the mind of a speaker and ends by affecting thoughts in the mind of a listener. This obvious observation is seldom incorporated in descriptions of language design for two major reasons. First, the role of thought is usually usurped by semantics. But semantic structures are imposed on thought by languages and differ from one language to another. Second, thought does not lend itself to familiar methods of linguistic analysis. Chafe suggests ways of describing thoughts, traces the path languages follow from thoughts to sounds, and explores ways in which thoughts are oriented in time, memory, imagination, reality, and emotions.

Summary copped on 9 May 2023 from Readings.

Aoki as a translator of English

Haruo Aoki is best known for his studies of and writings about Nez Perce. He is also known for his translations of Nez Perce tales mainly into English but also into Japanese. But he also translated from English into Japanese, as seen in his translation of Wallace L. Chafe's Meaning and the Structure of Language.

Wallace L. Chafe
Meaning and the Structure of Language
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1970
Translated by Haruo Aoki (青木晴夫) as
[ Imi to gengo kōzō ]
"Meaning and language structure" ]
1974年5月10日 初版発行
1st edition published 10 May 1874
xv, 437 pages, hardcover, slipcase

Front matter includes a preface to the Japanese translation by Wallace dated April 1973 at an unstated location, and undated words from the translator by Aoki at Berkeley. Translation and other rights were arranged through Charles E. Tuttle Company in Tokyo.

Aoki was a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics at Berkeley in 1962, completing his doctoral dissertation on Nez Perce grammar, when Chafe joined the faculty of the department, having completed his doctorate on Seneca morphology at Yale in 1958. Aoki and Chafe, as students of indigenous North American languages, got to know each other.

As Aoki tells the story in the translator's foreword, he was swimming one day in the campus swimming pool and spots a familiar face in the next lane. "Nice weather today, huh? By the way, how has your deep structure been recently?"

Aoki remarks that Chafe's book was interesting and asks if someone had translated it into Japanese, Chafe says not yet, and Aoki writes that those reading this book will understand what he, Aoki, had unwittingly said by the time the two men got out of the pool,

Aoki does not write that he regrets offering to translate Chafe's book. He does, however, remark that, though a linguist, he had not understood that ease of reading and understanding -- for which Chafe's writing was known -- necessarily meant easiness of translation.

Aoki say he first translated Chafe's prose sentence by sentence, word for word. He sometimes broke some longer sentences into 2 or 3 shorter sentences, but not often. And he rarely combined shorter sentences into longer ones. After creating a Japanese mirror of Chafe's English, he polished the Japanese of the translation.

Aoki's views of meaning and structure

The linguistic courses I took from Aoki were about historical changes, dialects, and relationships with neighboring and other langauge. I do not recall discussing, in his classes, fundamental questions about how human languages evolved and why they work the way they do. I do know, however, that he was not a fan of generative anything, be it grammar or semantics.

My hunch is that Aoki shared Chafe's conviction that the human capacity for languages -- meaning spoken words -- stems from the human capacity for consciousness. Meanings conveyed through languages are not byproducts of generative grammars or even generative semantics, but are embedded in flows of thoughts that become encoded in streams of sounds structured by the arbitrary rules that evolve to facilitate the coding of thoughts. The thoughts flow directly from one's consciousness, namely one's awareness of things sensed outside the body and of things sensed from and by way memory.

After completing his doctorate in 1963, Aoki became a professor of Japanese in the Department of Oriental Languages. As such he in charge of introductory Japanese courses and taught classes on Japanese linguistics. However, as he continued to work on Nez Perce, he remained close to faculty and students in the Department of Linguistics who specialied in indigenous American languages, including Chafe, but also linguists interested in Japanese, such as James Matisoff, whose wife, a Japanese literature specialist, later became a member of the Department of Oriental Languages,

From 1975 to 1986, immediately after the pubication of Aoki's translation of his book, Chafe directed the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages" at Berkeley. In 1986, he joined the linguistics department at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he retired and became emeritus in 1991.

See Language: Half of them are stupid for a fuller account of Aoki's approach to teaching Japanese and his understandings of Nez Perce and Korean.


The linguist who loves trains

More recently Aoki and I began to correspond by email. Of course we have talked about Nez Perce topics. But most of our exchanges have been about trains -- the older smoke-belching kind. It turns out that Aoki, under his own name and a pen name, has significantly contributed to the photographic documentation of some of the world's finest and oldest steam locomotive lore in Japan, North America, Europe, and even South America.

Aoki's love affair with steam locomotives is evident in Stories from My Life (see above). I suggested he subtitle his autobiography "The Life of a linguist who loves trains".


Susumu Nakamura On the University of Colorado campus, two students of the Navy Language School stop to chat in Japanese with Susumu Nakamura, who is head of instructors at the school. Before using this picture in a publication or in any way other than for documentation, check with Lt. Weldon or Commander Wharton, both of Naval Intelligence. -- Photographer: Parker, Tom--Boulder, Colorado. 2/3/43
Photograph and identification copped from Calisphere, University of California
War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Susumu Nakamura

Japanese Language School instructor

My intermediate-level Japanese language teacher was Susumu Nakamura. Nakamura had been an instructor at Berkeley when the Pacific War Broke out. He accompanied the Japanese Language School to Colorado when it was located there in 1942, and returned to Berkeley to resume his teaching there after the war.

Nakamura's figure became familiar to me while I was taking Haruo Aoki's elementary Japanese courses in 1967-1968. I saw him in the hall, and I could see him in his office when he left his door open. He looked as strict as rumor reputed him to be.

Aoki was also strict, but he had a mellowness about him more approachable in the eyes of students, who found Nakamura intimidating by comparison. In fact, Nakamura was very approachable. You just had to knock on his door, smile, and ask him for help on whatever was bothering you.

Rober Dignman, in Deciphering the Rising Sun: Navy and Marine Corps Codebreakers, Translators, and Interpreters in the Pacific War (Annapolis, Maryland, Naval Institute Press, 2009) describes Nakamura as "a hefty, gregarious, thirtythree-year-old Japanese-American teaching assistant who loved mahjong and good food . . . ." (unpaginated e-book).

The following very interesting note from Nakamura's daughter was available as of 15 June 2008 as a Word .doc file -- at a now dead link ( -- from the Special Collections & Archives of the University Libraries of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Charles D. Sheldon, a 1945 graduate of the Oriental Language School (OLS) at Boulder, who went on to become a specialist in Tokugawa history, reported to The Interpreter, the newsletter of The Japanese Language School Project at the Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, that Nakamura was "a handsome man with jet black hair, impressive presence, self-possession, and calm dignity" (No. 78A, 15 August 2004).

Numerous brief mentions of him in such literature testify that Nakamura was liked and respected as both a teacher and trouble shooter and host who at times invited students to his home.

Delmer Brown on Nakamura

The Regional Oral History Office University of California, at the Bancroft Library on the Berkeley campus, has a transcript of a 1995 interview conducted by Ann Lage, with Delmar M. Brown (1909-2011), a professor of Japanese history at the University of California at Berkeley from 1946 to 1977.

Brown was thus a very senior professor in the history department when I took one of his graduate seminars in 1974. He then served as one of the two "outside" members on the faculty committee that administered the oral exam that qualified me for advancement to candidacy for a doctorate in 1975.

The interview, conducted in 1995, was published in 2000 with an introduction by Irwin Scheiner, a colleague of Brown's in the Department of History. It runs 470 pages, in which Brown said this about Susumu Nakamura and a couple of other scholars of interest here (pages 89-90).

Delmer M. Brown

Professor of Japanese history at the University of California, Berkeley, 1946-1977

[ From pages 89-90 ]

UC Berkeley s East Asian Languages Department

[Ann] Lage: Did you have any discussions about if the University planned to put more emphasis on Asian studies, or whether the library might be improved?

[Delmer] Brown: I did know something about the history of Asian studies at Berkeley. There had been distinguished people here at the beginning of the twentieth century. The East Asian Language department was already distinguished. Professor Peter Boodberg, a very distinguished scholar in Chinese ftudies, was already here.

Lage: Where?

Brown: In the East Asian languages department.

Lage: Peter Boodberg. And they had Ferdinand Lessing.

Brown: He was also here, and I soon got acquainted with both of them.

Lage: And Florence Farquhar, associate professor of Japanese.

Brown: Yes, I remember her, but I knew Lessing and Boodberg better.

Lage: Then they had a lecturer in Siamese.

Brown: Oh, yes. Mary Haas. She was very distinguished. I had many contacts with her. She was a delightful woman.

Lage: And [you knew] Susumu Nakamura, lecturer in Japanese.

Brown: Yes, I had many associations with him down through the years. He was a great teacher of Japanese. But, since he had not written much and wasn't that much interested in research and writing, he never really got a regular appointment. As I recall, he was always a lecturer.

Lage: He has an M.A. in this listing.

Brown: Yes. But, as you know, a Ph.D. is what matters at the university level.

Lage: Mary Haas was a lecturer here.

Brown: She was a very distinguished scholar.

Lage: Did she go on to be a professor?

Brown: She was a distinguished professor.

Department of Oriental Languages faculty in late 1940s

The University of Califoronia General Catalog for the fall and spring semesters of 1947-1948, dated 15 August 1947, lists Peter A. Boodberg, Ferdinand D. Lessing, Shih-Hsiang Chen, Mary Haas, Edward H. Schafer, and Ching-Li Dougherty as "professors" of one sort or another in Oriental Languages. Yüan-ren Chao is separately listed as a visiting professor, along with Susumu W. Nakamura, M.A., Lecturer in Japanese (page 392).

Boodberg, Chen, Schafer, and Doughterty covered all Chinese courses. Nakamura covered all the general Japanese courses.

Boodberg and Nakamura teamed up on "Elements of Sino-Japanese". Boodberg, Nakamura, and Schafer teamed up on "Classical Chinese" and "Introduction to the Study of Chinese Characters". The staff was responsible for "Introduction to Classical Japanese and to Kambun".

I don't recall a course specifically on kanbun when I was in the OL Department in the late 1960s. But I do recall that Nakamura was regarded as the person to see about kanbun problems. The shelves of his office were crammed with classical Chinese and kanbun texts and reference books. I audited Boodberg's popular lectures on East Asian culture, which he gave in the main auditorium in Dwinelle Hall as I recall.

Boodberg also taught "Malay", Lessing taught "Mongolian" and "Tibetan" and Buddhist texts. and Haas taught "Siamese (Thai)".

The provence of "Oriental Languages" had considerably shrunk by the late 1960s when I first when I became a student in the department.

Nakamura was not entirely inactive as a researcher and scholar. In the 1950s he published at least two articles in academic publications -- "Pradakshina, a Buddhist Form of Obeisance" (1951) and "Pushapa-pūāj, Flower Offering in Buddhism" (1958) as "Susumu W. Nakamura".

Elizabeth Huff on Susumu Nakamura, Elizabeth McKinnon, and Denzel Carr

Elizabeth Huff (1912-1988), one of the founders of the East Asiatic Library in Durant Hall, was still the head of the library when I entered the Department of Oriental Languages in 1967. She retired in 1968, but her name and legacy still hung in the air of the library when I had a carrel there during my graduate studies in 1972-1975.

Huff's background was no less interesting. The following text comes from the middle of a longer profile posted by Harvard University, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.

Huff went to Asia for language study in 1939 and lived sequentially in Japan and China. After Pearl Harbor, she was interned by the Japanese and spent the duration of the war at a prison camp in Shandong province. After the war she returned to Harvard to complete her dissertation. In 1947, she became the first female Ph.D. recipient in the Department of Far Eastern Languages. Her dissertation, entitled "Shih Hsueh," was a study of Chinese poetics.

In the spring of 1947, Huff moved to California to become the founding librarian of U.C. Berkeley's East Asian Library. Over the next two decades, until her retirement in 1968, she built that institution into one of the foremost East Asian libraries in the United States. . . .

The following fascinating exchange took place in 1977 between Rosemary Levenson, interviewing Elizabeth Huff (1912-1988), the head librarian at the East Asiatic Library when I was at Berkeley, for the China Scholars Series of oral histories collected by the Regional Oral History Office of The Bancroft Library. The transcript -- "Elizabeth Huff: Teacher and Founding Curator of the East Asiatic Library: From Urbana to Berkeley by Way of Peking" -- was introduced by John C. Jamieson, who spoke Korean and Chinese and taught Chinese. I studied Korean from his wife.

The interview, which runs 278 pages including back matter, was conducted in Elizabeth Huff's study in October 1976. I have cut and pasted, and formated, the following text from an Internet Archive ( scan of a copy of the interview in The Bancroft Library (pages 158-159).

Elizabeth Huff


[ From pages 158-159 ]

RL [Rosemary Levenson]: So, now we have four people in Chinese. Was there anybody in Japanese?

[Elizabeth] Huff: When I came in '47, I think there was one professor, a Japanese himself, who later went to U.C.L.A. [University of California at Los Angeles]. U.C.L.A. opened a Department of Oriental Languages in '48. I'm sorry to say I don't remember his name. It was a long Japanese name. [He was] a rather shy person whom I really didn't get to know.

Mr. [Susumu W.] Nakamura was one of Mr. Lessing's students. He had studied Tibetan with him and, I think, had become quite advanced in it, but for some reason never did go on to complete his Ph.D.

RL: But at least there was a substructure of Japanese instruction.

Huff: Yes.

RL: I don't know if that's the right word to use. I'd like to be careful about that.

Huff: Yes, I think it is. Mr. Nakamura had been a teacher, hadn't he, at Boulder?

RL: That's right, yes. Well, of course, before that, at Berkeley, the Navy Japanese Language School, which was first in Berkeley in 1942, and then after the relocation order removing Japanese from the three western states, the school had to move and it went to Boulder.

Huff: Oh.

RL: Yes, indeed. Nakamura-sensei. [Laughter] He taught my husband at Berkeley and Boulder. Much loved.

Huff: Was he?

RL: Oh, yes.

Huff: The person to come, in a sense, to start the [Japanese] department -- perhaps I should leave this till later. It wasn't until '50 that he was brought in, and thereby hangs an extremely funny tale. [Laughter]

RL: Well, since we're talking about it, why don't you tell me now?

Huff: Oh. Well, after elaborate and, in some ways, harrowing negotiation of a year or more than a year, E.A.L. acquired the Mitsui family library. I spoke to Mr. Boodberg and said, "This is still a secret," but told him what we had, and I said, "You have no tenured person to teach Japanese. I absolutely cannot bring that collection in -- it isn't all Japanese books, but still -- if there is no professor of Japanese, no promise of students -- who will use the collection?"

I heard nothing, and some days later, Mr. Boodberg came into the office, still the old 413 in the Doe building, and Betty McKinnon, who later married Denzel Carr, says, with the greatest assurance -- can't credit it really -- she says that I asked Mr. Boodberg if he had found anyone, that he said it was very difficult, and that I, at that point, pushed him into the northwest corner of the room under the window, and said, "You have to find somebody.'" Betty was sitting in the southeast corner at her desk. I don't know.

In any case, Denzel Carr was brought. He was then in Tokyo. He had been a member of the War Crimes Trial Commission. He knows many, many languages. He, as quite a young man, had taught Japanese in Cracow in Polish to Polish students.

RL: Extraordinary!

Huff: Yes. Then he'd gone on to Japan. I think he took his doctor's degree at Yale, and then I don't know. He was in the navy in the Second [World] War. So, he came to Berkeley in 1950 to teach Japanese, which he did, though more and more he was drawn to Indonesian, which he was teaching in his last years on the faculty.

Nakamura's daughter

The following very interesting note from Nakamura's daughter was available as of 15 June 2008 as a Word .doc file -- at a now dead link ( -- from the Special Collections & Archives of the University Libraries of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School Archival Project

The Interpreter
Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries

Number 53
Remember September 11, 2001
September 15, 2002

First Japanese Child

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the 60-year reunion in Boulder. However, I would like to note that my address has changed to 27 Springmist court Sacramento, CA 95831 and my name is now Evelyn Nakamura Davidson. This 60th celebration is particularly significant to me since I was the first Japanese child born in Boulder, CO and created quite a stir in the hospital since the medical staff had never seen and Asian baby. That is to say, they had never seen the "blue" stripe down the lower back particular to Asian infants. I was born on July 19, 1942, within a week of the evacuation of my parents and older brother, Edwin, from Berkeley, Ca. As you may know my father, Susumu Nakamura taught Japanese at UC Berkeley and aided in the Voice of America effort after war was declared between Japan and the US. Please give my regards to your participants.

Evelyn Sachiko (nee Nakamura) Davidson

Susumu Winston Nakamura was born in California on 17 March 1908. A 1943 directory for Boulder, Colorado lists "Susumu W Nakamura" with his wife "Fumie A Nakamura" at 751 Grant Place ( He passed away in Berkeley on 15 June 1989. His mother's maiden name was Watanabe.


Elizabeth Carr

Japanese Language School instructor

My first kogo and bungotai teacher was Elizabeth Carr -- known to her students at JLS in Boulder as Elizabeth McKinnon or "Betty Sensei". Serge Elisséeff and Edwin O. Reischauer, in the August 1942 introduction to the 1st volume of Selected Japanese Texts for University Students, published in 1942 by Harvard University Press for the Harvard-Yenching Institute. thanked "Miss Elizabeth McKinnon" for having helped prepare the manuscript material. I would guess that she joined the JLS faculty shortly after this.

Carr's brother was Richard Nichols McKinnon. He, too, was born in Otaru.

An out-bound passenger manifest of U.S. citizens and nationals aboard the Hikawa Maru, sailing from Seattle for Yokohama on 20 September 1955, lists Richard Nichols McKinnon as born in Otaru, Japan, and parenthetically notes that he was a "Deriv. Citz." His name follows William and Joyce Lebra and Harry Lippset.

Elizabeth Carr's father was Daniel Brooke McKinnon, from Massachusetts, and her mother was Shinko Mishima McKinnon, from Yamaguchi prefecture. Her parents married on 15 December 1917.

A 1943 directory for Boulder, Colorado shows "McKinnon Eliz tchr r1055 9th".

Elizabeth Carr was a truly wonderful, dedicated, and very gracious teacher. She was petite and neat and attractive, and I must admit I had a bit of a crush on her. She was not a professor but a part-time lecturer, who was called upon to teach classical grammar when Douglass Mills returned to Cambridge, and she would fill the gap until the McCulloughs arrived, and Helen took over the teaching of classical grammar.

Denzel Carr

McKinnon became Carr through marriage to Denzel Carr (1900-1983), a Malay-Polynesian expert in the Department of Linguistics. Denzel Carr, a polyglot, had studied Chinese, Polish, and Japanese, among other languages. His 1937 PhD from Yale was on Japanese grammar.

Haruo Aoki -- himself a product of the Department of Linguistics at Berkeley, where Denzel Carr was ensconced -- invited him to speak in a graduate seminar on Japanese linguistics. Carr talked about Malay-Polynesian, but also about Japanese -- as originally he had been a Japanese specialist. He had lived and worked in Japan, before the Pacific War, and was a Navy officer during the war and Allied Occupation.

During the war, Denzel Carr worked in Naval intelligence. From 1945-1948 he participated in the Tokyo War Crimes Trials as Chief of the Language Division of the International Prosecution Section of the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ/SCAP). In 1948 he began teaching Japanese in the Oriental Languages Department at Berkeley, where he had first studied Chinese and Japanese during the 1920s. He chaired the department for a number of years during the 1950s, before migrating to the Department of Linguistics as a Malay-Indonesian specialist.

Elizabeth McKinnon Carr, who was 18 years younger than Denzel, survived him by 20 years. The following obituary, and the photograph, are from the Albert Brown Mortuary, which see for further details.

Elizabeth Carr Elizabeth McKinnon Carr (1918-2013)
Copped from Albert Brown Mortuary

Elizabeth McKinnon Carr

November 1, 1918 - January 14, 2013
Resided in El Cerrito, CA


Elizabeth McKinnon Carr passed away peacefully on January 14, 2013, in the company of her daughter.

Born Elizabeth Kimiko McKinnon in Tokyo on November 1, 1918, to Shinko Mishima McKinnon of Chofu, Japan, and Daniel Brooke McKinnon of Massachusetts, she grew up in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan, where her father taught English.

She attended Ochanomizu Women's University in Tokyo, where she focused on the study of classical Japanese literature. Upon graduation in 1938, she returned to Hokkaido to teach at Hokusei high school in Sapporo.

In 1941, as war loomed between Japan and the U.S., Elizabeth and her sister, American citizens, left Japan at their parents' insistence to live with their aunt in Massachusetts. Elizabeth taught Japanese at the Navy language schools at Harvard and in Boulder, Colorado, returning in 1943 to Harvard's Yenching Institute to continue teaching Japanese with her mentor, Serge Eliseeff. The picture here was her favorite photo, which she had taken in celebration when the war between her two beloved home countries came to an end.

In 1947, Elizabeth moved to Berkeley to be in charge of Japanese materials at the East Asiatic Library (now C. V. Starr East Asian Library) at the University of California. As the first person hired by its founding director, Elizabeth Huff, she was part of the pioneering team that developed the library into one of the most important collections of Asian books and documents in the U.S. Her largest project was the acquisition of the Mitsui Collection of Japanese and Korean materials.

In 1951, she married Professor Denzel Carr of the (then) Oriental Languages Department at U.C. Berkeley. They had one daughter, born in 1954. Elizabeth left the library to devote herself to her family, though she later returned to teaching Japanese occasionally at the U.C. Extension School.

Her interests included art, music, Japanese history, museum visits, and travel. In later years, after the death of her husband, she found solace and a new joy in the garden, a hobby shared with her daughter. Her two greatest loves were family and teaching.

She leaves behind her daughter, Helen Sorayya Carr of El Cerrito, California; her sister and brother-in-law, Lincolna and Joseph Guilfoile, their sons Richard, David, Bruce, and Paul, and their extended families, mostly in Tokyo; and the children of her deceased brother Richard McKinnon, Patricia, Rick, Jonathan, and Christine and their families in Seattle.

Her life will be celebrated at a gathering of friends at her home in El Cerrito on February 23rd, during her favorite cherry blossom season.


Frank Motofuji Francis Motofuji (top right), MISLS Class C-1, circa February 1944
Military Intelligence Service Language School, Camp Savage, Minnesota
Copped and cropped from Densho Digital Repository (Archives) of Denshō

Frank Motofuji

MISLS student and instructor

My one and only modern Japanese literature teacher -- first through translation, then through originals -- was Frank Motofuji, who was born and raised in Hawaii. His translation as Frank T. Motofuji of Kawatake Mokuami's kabuji play "Seishin Izoyoi" (清心十六夜), as Love of Izoyoi and Seishin, had come out in 1966 (Charles E. tuttle, Prentice Hall) the year before I enrolled in the Department of Oriental Languages and took his introductory Japanese literature course. Motofuji dedicated this volume to Denzel Carr. The back flap of the just jacket conlcudes with this remark.

While in Japan from 1946-1952, Mr. Motofuji saw every single Kabuki play given in Tokyo, and witnessed some of the greatest performers in the history of Kabuki.

Motofuji's translation of Ōe Kenzaburō's short story "Nihgen no hitsuji" (人間の羊) as "Sheep" was published in Japan Quarterly in 1970 (Volume 17, No. 2, pages 167-177). My own translation of Oe's "Fui no oshi" (不意の唖) as Unexpected Muteness would be published in the same journal in 1989 (Volume 36, Number 1, pages 35-44). I first translated the story during a 1973 graduate seminar on Ōe, for which I translated the longer title story of Ōe's the Leap Before You Look (見る前に飛ぶ). That same year, Motofuji's translations of two of Kobayashi Takiji's stories were published as "Factory Ship" and "The Absentee Landlord" (Washington Press).

John Nathan

John Nathan (b1940), who had translated Ō's "Kojin-teki-na taiken" (個人的な体験) as A Personal Matter in 1968 (Grove Press), visited the Department of Oriental Languages while I was there in the early 1970s (1972-1975). Someone in the library whispered to me, "That's John Nathan," and we watched him -- a large man -- talk with one of the librarians for a while and leave as quickly as he had come. Nathan was a bit of hero in our eyes, proof that Keene, Seidensticker, Hibbett, Morris, and Weatherby didn't own Japanese literature in translation.

After Ōe got the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1994, Grove Press asked Nathan to help it select Ōe titles that might be published in English. Kunioki Yanagishita, a totally bilingual friend of mine since 1970, who later became a friend of Ōe's and a tutor to his children, was translating "Shizuka-na seikatsu" (静かな生活), at Ōe's request, and asked me to join him as a co-translator. It was Ōe's most recent popular work (1990), and had been made into a film in 1995 by Itami Jūzō (伊丹十三), Ōe's brother-in-law, who killed himself in 1997, the year after Grove Press published our efforts as A Quite Life.

Dazai Osamu

I last saw Motofuji in the fall of 1982 when going to his office to obtain his signature approving my doctoral dissertation, which I promptly filed. I had to enroll for the term to satisify the residency requirement, but was actually present in Berkeley only a few days. Motofuji had recently teamed with Sakuma Katsuhiko in the 2-volume publication Advanced Spoken Japanese: Tonari no Shibafu (Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 1980).

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Motofuji was involved in research on Dazai Ozamu. He hoped to published an academic study of Dazai's life and literature. His translations, and contributions to language teaching, didn't count as scholaraly work when it came to advancement. The Dazai study would have qualified him for promotion to full professor. To the best of my knowledge, he never completed this work, and I believe he remained an associate professor until his retirement.

Motofuji the film buff

Motofuji was a serious student of film as well as of literature. He helped inventory the hundreds of films that several major Japanese film companies deposited with the Pacific Film Archieve (PFA) after its new facilities opened in November 1970.

From late 1973, throughout 1974, and in early 1975 he also participated, as I and De Vos did, in the many screenings of films from which to select the 13 works to feature in PBS's 1975 The Japanese Film (see below) series, prodiced by KQED in San Francisco in association with PFA.

Master Sergeant Motofuji

Francis T. Motofuji was born in Kipapa, Hawaii in 1919 and passed away in Berkeley in 2006.

He was "Toshi" in the 1930 Federal census for Honolulu and "Toshiyuki" in the 1940 census, but "Toshiyuki Francis Motofuji" on his 1937 Social Security application and "Francis T. Motofuji" in later Social Security Records. Informally he was "Frank" but also used "Frank" in some by-lines. My impression is that he may have been "Toshi" within his family and circle of older childhood friends, but "Frank" to later friends.

Motofuji was survived by his wife Yuriya and their son Richard. I met both at their Kensington home.

Yuriya's maiden name was Chiba and she described herself as part Russian. She had been raised mainly in Japan. An Immigration and Naturalization Service passenger "Manifest of Out-Bound Passengers (Aliens)" for S.S. Lurline, sailing from Honolulu on 30 August 1952, bound for the Port of San Francisco, shows "MOTOFUJI YURIYA 22 JAPAN" and "MOTOFUJI FRANK 32 U.S. CITIZEN W/ALIEN WIFE". They are similarly listed on the "Manifest of In-Bound Passengers (Aliens)" arriving in San Francisco on 4 September 1952.

Motofuji enlisted on 3 January 1944

Motofuji was in Japan from 1946 to 1952, which spans all but the first months of the Allied Occupation of Japan.

"MOTOFUJI YULIA" is listed on the Passenger Manifest of a Pan American World Airways flight from San Francisco to Toyko, 5 June 1957. She is listed on a similar manifest for flight from Tokyo to San Francisco on 2 July 1957.

On the first of these two manifests, her name is listed as typed "ULIA" and "Y" is hand printed.


Bill and Helen McCullough

Helen Japanese Language School graduate

Bill and Helen McCullough were my graduate school mentors. They were at Standard when I was an undergrad at Berkeley. When applying for admission to the Oriental Languages Department as a junior in 1967, in what was treated as a transfer between two colleges within the university, I was interviewed by the department chair, who happened to be Douglas Mills, on loan from Cambridge. By the time I was ready to take his course in classical Japanese, however, he had left Berkeley, hence my initiation into classical grammar by Elizabeth Carr (see above).

I graduated in December 1969 with an individual major in Japanese Studies, and by the time I returned for graduate school in 1972, the McCulloughs had migrated to Berkeley to replace Nakamura and Carr, who had retired. Both of the McCulloughs, however, were Berkeley trained, so they were just returning home.

Helen, born in 1918, was a product of JLS in Boulder and served as a translator in both Washington and in Tokyo (with SCAP, first as an officer, then as a civilian). Bill, born in 1928, was too young to have been part of the JLS generation. He studied Japanese at Berkeley after the war, under Nakamura and others who had returned to Berkeley when the Boulder facility was closed. JLS, and its initial faculty at Berkeley, had moved to Boulder because Colorado was outside the westcoast military zone within which most people of "Japanese ancestry" were not allowed to reside.

The McCulloughs made an interesting team. Bill was every bit as scholarly, but Helen was much more accomplished. There were nepotism rules at Berkeley at the time, hence both could not be employed as professors in the same department. Helen was smart. She let Bill -- ten years her junior, and the less published -- be the professor. So he pulled all the time-consuming administrative duties, which he seemed to enjoy, including a stint while I was there as the departmental chair.

Helen was content being "a mere lecturer" -- which totally freed her to teach and translate with no concern about status or campus politics. She did, however, have to face a scandalous faculty fight -- with Masao Miyoshi, a Victorian literature expert in the English Department, who wanted to introduce postmodernist "new literature" criticism to -- and otherwise totally deconstruct -- the (then) Oriental Languages Department's more conventional, philological, historical, anthropological, and sociological approaches to Japanese literature. One of my classmates was practically unable to graduate because, though one of Helen's proteges, she opted for a doctorate in the Comparative Literature Department -- and had to accept Miyoshi on her committee. Talk about fireworks.

Bill McCullough was the most important of the three members on my doctoral dissertation committee, comprised also of George De Vos, who chaired the committee, and Frank Motofuji. De Vos was in the Anthropology Department, and McCullough and Motofuji were in the then Oriental Languages (now East Asian Languages and Cultures) Department.

Such standards of scholarship that I still endeavor to follow, today, I owe to Helen and Bill.

William Hoyt McCullough, born in 1928, passed away in 1997.

Helen Craig McCullough, born in 1918, passed away in 1998.


Kun Chang

I enjoyed -- but was not a particuarly outstanding student in -- Kun Chang's elementary Chinese courses in 1967-1968. He was a disciplinarian but I found him likeable. He kept his students on the edges of their seats, but he punctuated the tension with humor.

By coincidence, one of his relatives was briefly my nextdoor neighbor in an apartment building I managed on Virginia Street in Berkeley. Also by coincidence, one of his nieces was a colleague at an English language school in Yotsuya, and I later crossed paths with her in a bookstore on Clement Street in San Francisco. She went on to become an attorney. The world is very small.

I was not, however, especially aware of Kun Chang's academic interests. The following profile is copied in 2008 from a now dead link at 厦门大学汉语国际推广南方基地 [Xiamen University southern base for the international promotion of the Chinese language] (

KUN CHANG (Chinese Linguistics)

Kun Chang received his B.A. (1938) in Chinese language and literature from National Tsinghua University and his M.A. (1949) and Ph.D. (1955) from Yale. He became an Academician in Academia Sinica in 1972. After teaching Chinese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit for 12 years at the University of Washington in Seattle, he arrived at Berkeley in 1963, where he taught Chinese Language and historical linguistics until his retirement in 1988. He has conducted research at National Southwestern University, Academia Sinica, and Yenching University (linguistic survey of non-Chinese languages in southwestern China). His fields of publication include Moso, Miao-yao, historical Chinese Linguistics, and, with Betty Shefts Chang, spoken Tibetan.

John Jamieson

Chinese was much more popular than Japanese, and there were two classes. John Charles Jamieson (b1933), who was then completing his doctoral disseration, taught the other. He sometimes substituted for Chang. His style of teaching was more relaxed, which is not to say that it was more effective than Chang's. He completed his dissertation -- "The Samguk Sagi and the Unification Wars" -- in 1968 (1969) and remained on the Oriental Languages faculty as a professor of Chinese. As his dissertation suggests, however, he specialized in early Sino-Korean texts, and he continued to study and write about early Korea while teaching modern Chinese and editing Chinese-language textbooks. He was also fluent in Korean, and his first wife, Chol Hee, taught the first course of Korean I took at Berkeley in the fall of 1968. I later studied Korean from Michael Rogers (see next).


Michael Rogers

Japanese Language School graduate

John Jamieson's wife Chol Hee taught me Korean the first time I studied the language, when an undergraduate, in the fall of 1968. Lewis Lancaster (b1932), who in 1967 had joined the faculty as a specialist in Buddhist texts, was a classmate. Lancaster initiated the digitization of the Korean Buddhist Canon, for which he received a Grand Award from the Republic of Korea in 2014.

I studied Korean a second time, in the winter of 1974 and the spring of 1975, when a graduate student, from Michael Rogers (1923-2005), who had graduated from the Japanese Language School at Boulder in 1944. While he studied Japanese during the war, he had earlier specialized in Japanese and had also learned Korean.

I resumed my studies of Korean in order to statisfy the second Asian language requirement, under the terms agreed to when I petitioned the Group in Asian Studies to permit me to earn a doctorate in an interdepartmental group that until then had no formal doctoral program. We agreed to call my program Northeast Asian Studies, hence the need for Korean as well as Japanese.

Rogers administered a written exam in Korean, which required me to translate a couple of pages from a Republic of Korea sociology journal. He gave me copies of the Korean text in his office in the basement of Durant, and allowed me to do the translation at my carrel in the East Asiatic Library on the 2nd floor of the 2-story-plus-attic building with a dictionary, which proved helpful because the text was above my actual level of profficieny. However, it was not as difficult as I expected, for at the time, many ROK journals were still being published with lots of Chinese characters, and the hangul between them could just as well have been kana as far as I was concerned.

The basement of Durant was dark and had the feeling of a dungeon. Roger's office was spacious compared to the offices on the ground and second floors, perhaps compensation for its dark location. It was full of books and manuscripts, and Rodgers looked as though he belonged there, separated from the rest of the world in his often rumpled clothes. He had a casual manner about him, and I have images of him in a corduroy sports jacket that looked as though he might have slept in it.

Rogers passed away on 4 May 2005 in -- of all places -- Grass Valley, California, my home town since 1955. A 24 May 2005 press release by Kathleen Maclay, at the UC Berkeley News Center, said this in part about him.

Michael Rogers, UC Berkeley professor emeritus who helped with first Mongolian-to-English dictionary, dies

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations | 24 May 2005

BERKELEY -- Michael Courtney Rogers, a University of California, Berkeley, professor emeritus of East Asian studies who was honored by the Korean government for his contributions to the study of Korean culture, died May 4 at his home in Grass Valley, Calif., following a long battle with the rare blood disease multiple myeloma.

"Rogers was a meticulous scholar and linguist," said Jeffrey Riegel, professor of Chinese, East Asian language and culture and chair of the Center for Chinese Studies at UC Berkeley. "He had mastered the literary forms of Chinese and Korean, and his translations -- as well as his scholarly writings -- are exemplars of elegance and clarity."

. . .

Rogers transferred to UC Berkeley in 1942 and dedicated himself first to Mongolian studies. He helped his department chairman compile the world's first Mongolian-to-English dictionary.

He completed his B.A. in 1944, and after the start of World War II, Rogers was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and sent to its Japanese/Oriental Language School at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He delivered the valedictory address there in fluent Japanese.

After graduation, he changed his commission from Navy ensign to Marine Corps second lieutenant and underwent Marine Corps training at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Then he was sent to the Pacific, participating as a language officer, translating documents and interviewing prisoners of war in the Okinawa campaign that began in April 1945.

Rogers told his family that after Japan surrendered in August 1945, he was surprised that some Japanese prisoners thought his account to them of the surrender was a ploy. After the war ended, he finished his service with a several-month tour of duty in China and was promoted to first lieutenant.

Returning to UC Berkeley in 1946, he studied Chinese and Tibetan, and two years later received a Fulbright scholarship to study those languages in China and Tibet. He traveled extensively there, often on foot and alone. He also spent several months living with the monks in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet and was one of very few Caucasians ever given that privilege.

He returned to his studies at UC Berkeley in 1950 and received his Ph.D. in oriental languages in June 1953. . . .

. . .

Rogers joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1953 as a professor of oriental languages and eventually become chair of what is now East Asian Studies.

At UC Berkeley, he taught Chinese, Japanese and Korean. His scholarly research included translating into English ancient Chinese dynastic histories that had never previously been translated. Among the best known is "Chronicle of Fu Chien: A Case of Exemplar History," published by UC Press in 1968 as one title in a Chinese Dynastic Histories Translation Project that was organized on the UC Berkeley campus.

. . .

Rogers was honored by the South Korean government with the Bo-Gwan award in 1985 for his scholarly original research into Korean antiquity. After receiving the award, he and his wife set up the UC Study Abroad Program at Yonsei University in Seoul. Upon their return, they retired to Grass Valley, in the Sierra foothills.

. . .


De Vos and Bock 1974
Yosha Bunko scan
Berger 1974
Yosha Bunko scan

Anderson and Richie 1959 Anderson's and Richie's The Japanese Film, 1959
2nd printing of 1960 Grove Press Evergreen edition
Yosha Bunko scan
Bock 1978 Audie Bock's Japanese Flim Directors, 1978
Foreword by Tatsuya Nakadai, Preface by Donald Richie
Yosha Bunko scan
Renan 1967 Sheldon Renan's Underground Film, 1967
Yosha Bunko scan
Renan 1975 PBS KQED monthly Focus, January 1975
Yosha Bunko scan

The Japanese Film

The off-camera editoral wars
in the production of the study guide for
KQED's 1975 PBS television series
featuring Reischauer et al.

For me, as a graduate student on the Berkeley campus from the fall of 1972 through the spring of 1975, nothing was more exciting than the opportunity to participate in the production of The Japanese Film film series. It was rewarding -- both as a chance to work with many interesting people I would never otherwise have met -- and as an experience in real-world clashes between interests and egos.

Frank Motofuji (1919-2006) (see above), a professor of Japanese literature, was also a student of film and drama. He helped inventory the hundreds of films that several major Japanese film companies deposited in the Pacific Film Archieve (PFA) after its facilities opened in November 1970. In 1974, he also participated -- as did I and George De Vos (1922-2010), my mentor in anthropology and principal faculty adviser -- in the many screenings of films from which to select the 13 works to feature in PBS's 1975 The Japanese Film series, prodiced by KQED in San Francisco in association with PFA.

Sheldon Renan (b1941), one of the founders of PFA and its first director, was the executive producer of film series, which had been his idea. He ran everything from his office in PFA and participated in the screenings, which often involved fewer than a dozen people. We were the same age.

The senior consultants for The Japanese Film were Edwin O. Reischauer, Donald Richie, and George A. De Vos (my anthropology mentor).

Sheldon championed the participation of big names. Toru Takemitsu and Tadanori Yokoo were comissioned to do the music and art. Toshiro Mifune, Howard Hibbett, Donald Keene, Ivan Morris, Donald Richie, Edward Seidensticker, Hideko Takamine, George De Vos, and Kazuko Tsurumi all appeared at least once as guests of Edwin O. Reischauer, who hosted the TV presentations of the 13 films, which were telecast with new subtitles from 9 January to 3 April 1975.


Study guide

I was De Vos's "bag man" (kaban-mochi). I helped him put together his contribution to Themes in Japanese Society as seen through The Japanese Film -- the 36-page study guide he wrote with Audie Bock (b1946) to accompany the series.

De Vos was the senior author, responsible for the sociocultural content. Audie's recent Harvard disseration on Japanese film directors -- the basis of her 1978 book Japanese Film Directors) -- made her the local expert on Japanese films -- if we ignore Frank Motofuji, who would be the last person to claim that he was an expert.

I have, in my files, a few centimeters of copies of practically every bit of paper generated in the process of producing the film series from the standpoint of selecting the films and writing the Themes in Japanese Society pamphlet. De Vos asked me to edit the first galleys -- a mock-up of the pamphlet.

I edited mechanics but also addressed content. I rewrote some phrases and a few paragraphs.

We went over the edits. Winifred Dahl and Ruth-Inge Heinze (1919-2007) -- both anthropology doctoral students attracted, like me, to De Vos's school of psychological anthropology, aka as cultural psychology -- were also involved in the editing process.

We were unified in our belief that the working draft, which Audie had created by integrating her views with De Vos's, needed fixing -- so much so that De Vos told me to add my name to the title page credits as the editor. So I revised the title page to read "by George De Vos and Audie Bock" -- followed by "designed by Tadanori Yokoo" and "edited by William Wetherall".

Audie objected to some of my editing, which admittedly had been aggressive, but we agreed that some of her commentary (and some of De Vos's remarks as well) needed better nuancing. More importantly, though, Audie objected to sharing the by-line with an editor. And she cited her contract.

De Vos was on the spot because he had not obtained permission from Sheldon Renan to add my name as an editor. And Sheldon had no choice but to back Audie. In the meantime I, and Winnie and Ruth, had no standing. We knew nothing about such agreements. We were merely assisting De Vos.

Sheldon asked De Vos and me to meet him at PFA. He first talked to De Vos in his office and voices rose. But De Vos had to accept that I could not be credited as an editor. Shelden then had a one-on-one with me in his office and explained what was going on. I understood.

I had brought my own complete copy of the edit, many parts of which I had typed, and I gave it to Sheldon. "I don't really need this anymore." He immediately thrust it back at me. "Take my advice, Bill. Keep it." I did, with all the other detritus from the project. Otherwise, I would not have been able to recall even half of what I am relating here, or fact-check the half I remember.


Making up

All this happened in the summer of 1974. The project proposal was completed by the end of 1973. The films were screened and selected by the spring of 1974. Everyone went into high gear. The series would be telecast from January 1975. Everything had to be wrapped up by the fall of 1974 and published by the end of the year.

In the course of the editing, I wrote a number of notes to De Vos, keeping him abreast of what I was doing, not only on the film project, but regarding liasons with Barbara Zimmerman and Philip Lilienthal at the University of California Press concerning corrections for a second edition of De Vos's Socialization for Achievement. It's a wonder I had any time to study.

In a 3-page, single-spaced, undated memorandum to De Vos, covering numerous topics, 3 of several items concerning the PBS project reflect my attitude at the time.

Have met Audie. Went over introduction and one of the theme sections. She's a fine organizer in terms of development and continuity, but seems inclined toward sterotypes [sic], superlative generalizations, and sometimes imbalance. She also seems ready to take shortcuts in quality under deadline pressure, which may be creating the problems I have noted. But it is my experience, such as it is, that inadvertent slipping into stereotypes and unsupportable generalizations are better attributed to belief in them. She may have taken your general approval of introduction draft, and Sheldon's general approval, both too easily and too seriously. In any case, she has experienced what it feels like to be criticized by Wetherall. I thought she took it gracefully.

Audie didn't want to let me retype my corrected copy for her. Said there is no money to pay me for typing. I can see she comes from a mercenary world. She said I shouldn't be so noble to offer to type for nothing. Maybe she's defending her control MSS. That's her prerogative, but I will argue that it gravitates against the objectives of the project to get out the best possible copy. There is not enough time for her to be originator, editor, and typer all in one. She would be doing enough to apply her obvious talents to producing reasonably accurate drafts, and letting me make it readable in terms of writing criteria, i.e., conciseness, clarity, and so forth.

There were also problems with the editing of advertising copy and subtitles. Misphrasing in promotional copy, and lack of coordination between subtitling and content in the official PBS guide, could result in contraditions in view point. Much of the "quality control" was left to chance. Editorial policy was developed on the fly, and at times didn't really qualify as "policy". The undated memorandum to De Vos included the following remarks about this problem.

I still don't see that Sheldon is preparing to route advertising copy through Audie. I get the impression from her, also, that when she was first approached to be editor of the project, that she did not foresee being overall editor in the sense that all materials would be passed through her hands for checks on romanization, accuracy, tone, etc. So I see some basic conflicts in what we were at one time led to believe about quality control. I am told [by Audie] that [Joseph L.] Anderson is indeed resubtitling, and that "someone" is checking him, but if there's no tie-in with those of us who have been most sensitive to subtitle problems, how do we know that he has improved [the titles] in areas we felt needed improvement? And if we write interpretations that depend on these problem areas being improved -- and we discover that Anderson has left some of these areas untouched -- how will this come across to a critical viewer? Again, I would say we need to see typeout of the new subtitle sequence, along side Japanese scenario. Why we can't have these is beyond me. Certainly they exist -- and all it would take is a phone call to the people who have them, and a few dollars Xerox and mailing, and they would be here for our perusal and peace of mind.

Joseph L. Anderson was the co-author with Donald Richie of the then (and still) standard introduction to Japanese filmdom, The Japanese Film: Art and Industry (Charles E. Tuttle 1959, Evergreen [Grove Press] 1960), an expanded edition of which is still in print. Anderson was the primary researcher. Richie the main writer.

I continued to work with De Vos, Winnie Dahl, and Ruth Heinze. I and Ruth sent a formal letter to Sheldon Renan, dated 7 August 1974, in which we asked that our names not appear in the official PBS study guide. "We are aware that it was Professor George A. DeVos's intention that we be acknowledged. Moreover, we are aware that a brief acknowledgement including our names was drafted and that the draft was submitted with Professor DeVos's and our consent to Audie Bock, in Professor DeVos's and our presence, for inclusion in the study guide. / However, we herein withdraw permission to use our names in any manner whatsoever related to the above-mentioned study guide." Sheldon returned the original copy to me with this note at the bottom: "Bill, OK. Sheldon Renan 8 August 74".

In time we all got along. Ruth and I withdrew our objection to acknowledging our participation in the Themes in Japanese Society study guide. I am credited for my assistance along with Felicia Bock (Audie's mother, see below), and Winifred Dahl and Ruth-Inge Heinze.

I saw Winnie again in Japan, as she was briefly there in the early days of my fieldwork, which began in the summer of 1975. Ruth, who was older than De Vos, was full of energy and wisdom, and I regret not having any further contact with her. And I never again crossed physical paths with Audie or Felicia, though I later met a few people who knew them -- including Donald Richie -- and now and then I encountered Audie's and Felicia's publications (see below).


Japan Society panel discussion

In early January 1975, KQED sent me a 1-inch-thick box containing the entire press kit for The Japanese Film series. The kit consisted of 14 folders -- a generic folder pertaining to the series in general, and a folder for each of the 13 films -- all stuffed with data on the films, synopses, glossy stills, and lots of promotional copy.

The production of The Japanese Film was financed mainly by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. However, part of the costs were underwritten by the Bank of America in San Francisco. BoA hosted a panel discussion in the A.P. Giannini Auditoriam in its downtown tower. Sheldon Renan chose me to be one of the four panelists -- with himself, Michael Berger (a journalist who wrote a "business" oriented pamphlet for the series), and Frank Motofuji. Sheldon also asked me to moderate the panel. In publicity created by The Japan Society of San Francisco, which facilitated the panel, I was billed as "Bill Wetherall".

The panel discussion began from 12 noon on Thursday, 6 March 1975. The idea was to draw a lunch-time audience. As it wasn't a formal dinner party, I wouldn't have to stand around, socialize, and pretend I was having fun. I didn't even have to dress up, but I did -- to a point. I pulled my only sports coat out of the closet -- a light tan, heavy tweed jacket I still have, and have worn perhaps a dozen times in my life, mostly in Japan -- and bought a new baby-blue Oxford-cloth button-down shirt. It was the nearest I ever came to being a westcoast Ivy Leaguer. Michael Berger accused me of trying to pass as a journalist. Whatever I was, I strutted my stuff. It wasn't live, but it had to start and end on time, and given the mix of panel members, I scripted everything except what they would actually say. Everything unfolded like clockwork within the 50-minute time slot. And by all accounts it was well received.

At the panel discussion, I introduced Sheldon as "until this year the director of the Pacific Film Archive". In October 1974, Sheldon had announced his resignation, effective 1 January 1975, in order to become an independent producer. At the time of the panel discussion, he was already busy with the creation of three major TV series for showing on PBS stations nationwide.


Catalog project

In addition to helping De Vos, I authored a 24-page proposal titled "Stanford-Berkeley East Asian Studies Center Pacific Film Archive Japanese Film Collection Catalog Project (8 March 1974). I did this through the Stanford-Berkeley East Asian Studies Center, which was then under the co-direction of Albert Dien, a professor of Chinese at Stanford, and Haruo Aoki, a professor of spoken Japanese and of Japanese linguistics at Cal, with whom I am still in touch (see above).

The proposal provided that students interested in Japanese films be hired to catalog the Japanese films in PFA. Frank Motofuji endorsed this idea as the cheaper and more effective way to catalog the films, and he agreed to supervise the cataloging. Sheldon Renan of course wanted the films -- some of them acquired from Shochiku as recently as June 1973 -- properly cataloged. My files include correspondence from PFA's technical director showing a breakdown of PFA material costs and administrative overhead.

There are several memos to Motofuji and me from Eiji Yutani, the Japanese collection bibliographer at the East Asiatic Library, concerning the acquisition of Japanese film journals and other reference materials. In a memo to me dated 28 February 1974, Yutani estimated that it would cost "$1300-$1500 [to acquire] back numbers of Kinema Jumpō needed at the library -- "[s]ome 1300-1400 numbers in fifty-four volumes, 1919-1972".

In those days, most back issues of Kinema junpō would probably have been available. Today it would be extremely difficult to amass such a collection, and for most libraries the costs would be prohibitive. Some Taishō and early Shōwa issues run from 5,000 to 20,000 yen -- if you can find them.

The catalog project never got off the ground while I was there. Motofuji remained involved and eventually PFA had a proper catalog and not just lists of titles, which was all that existed at the time of the PBS series.


Syllabuses and other classroom guides

George De Vos and Winifred Dahl co-authored Japanese Culture Through the Camera's Eye, an 85-page syllabus for Anthropology X 123, a Univeristy of California Extension (Independent Study) course (1974).

Francis T. Motofuji wrote Japanese Film: Thirteen Postwar Masterpieces, a 123-page syllabus for Oriental Languages X 146, another UC extension course (1974).

In addition to these syllabuses, which were intended for use in UCB's continuing education program, there were several initiatives to develop a guide to the PBS film series for use in secondary classrooms. I myself submitted a 17-page proposal, dated 20 October 1974, to Tony Namkung, at the Stanford-Berkeley Joint NDEA Center. NDEA means "National Defense Education Act" and the center oversaw the language and area studies programs that the Federal U.S. government funded through the act, including NDEA fellowships. of which I was one of several recipients at UCB and Stanford. Tony was a graduate student in history, a teaching assistant for Robert Bellah in sociology, and a close friend I had met in Aoki's elementary Japanese course on the first day of classes in the fall of 1967. Tony, who was raised in Japan, was immediately placed in the immediate Japanese course taught by Susumu Nakamura, where he could focus on reading and writing (see above).

On 3 March 1975, Tony informed a list of concerned individuals -- Harumi Befu, George A. DeVos, Peter Duus, Ronald B. Harring, Francis Motofuji, and William O. Wetherall -- concerning the "Teaching Japan in Schools (TJS)" project at Stanford, which the Joint NDEA Center had partly funded. The first TJS proposal failed and was in the process of revision. I have no idea what became of the effort. By July 1975, I was in Japan, beginning my fieldwork on suicide, and would never again reside in the United States.


Felicia and Audie Bock

Audie's mother, Felicia Bock (1916-2011), was perhaps the most interesting behind-the-scenes character in the PBS film project drama. I have no knowledge of whether she was formally contracted to contribute to the film project, or whether she was merely involved as Audie's mother. I met her only once that I clearly remember, after meeting Audie. And there was no doubt that she was Audie's mother.

I had bought Felicia's translation of the Engishiki (延喜式), an early 10th century compendium of texts related to Shintō rites, which she published in 2 volumes as Engi-Shiki: Procedures of the Engi Era (Tokyo: Sophia University, 1970, 1972), and naturally I was curious about the face that went with the by-line. It's always a pleasure to meet someone who actually finishes and publishes a work.

The back flap of the dust jacket of Volume 1 describes Bock's life like this.

The author, Felicia Gressitt Bock, is Lecturer on Japanese and Chinese cultural histories and Far Eastern Buddhism at the University of California Extension. She sudied Japanese language and history from 1937 to 1941 at Kobe College in Nishinomiya, Japan, and took up Japanese studies at Columbia University. In 1948 she obtained an M.A. in Japanese from the University of California and in 1966 was awarded the Ph. D. in Oriental Languages. She was born in Tokyo and lived in Japan for more than 15 years. She and her husband, Charles Kurt Bock, were married in Tokyo in 1940. They have three children.

The above 2 volumes cover Books I-V and Books VI-X of the 50 books (kan 巻) of Engishiki. In 1985, Bock published two more books in Classical Learning and Taoist Practices in Early Japan, With a Translation of Books XVI and XX of the Engi-Shiki (Arizona State University Center for Asian Studies, Occasional Paper, Number 17, 1985).

One of my hobbies is to trace historical people in records available through genealogical websites like

Felicia Ray Gressitt was born in Tokyo and raised in Japan until age 15, when she went to the United States to study at Mount Holyoke in Massacheusetts. After graduating from the college in 1936, she returned to Japan and taught for a while at Kobe College (Kōbe Jogakuin 神戸女学院), a Christian women's college founded in 1873 (now called Kōbe Jogakuin Daigaku 神戸女学院大学 in Japanese).

On 1 November 1940, Felicia Ray Gerssitt, a U.S. citizen, married Kurt Karl Bock, a German national born in Austria in 1910, at the American Consulate in Yokohama, according to a Consular Marriage Certificate. The certificate states that both parties were then residing in Yokohama.

On 10 June 1941, Karl Bock filed a "Declaration of Intention" to naturalize with a New York district court. On 8 October 1942, he filed a "Petition for Naturalization" with the court, on which he declared that he had emigrated from Yokohama to the United States for permanent resident, arriving in Honolulu on 13 January 1940, and had not been absent from the U.S. for a period of more than 6 months since then. The petition states that he and his wife Felica had married on 1 November 1940 in Tokyo [not Yokohama], and that Felica entered the United States for permanent residence on 10 April 1941. A court order dated 13 December 1944 authorizes revisions in the petition, including the change of "Karl" to "Charles". And on this same date, Charles Kurt Bock was issued a Certificate of Naturalization and thereby became a U.S. citizen.

Felicia studied at Columbia while she and Charles were residing in New York. Audie was born in New York but raised in Berkeley while Felicia was studying at Cal. Her mother's attachments to Japan led Audie to her interests in the country.

The back flap of the dust jacket of Japanese Film Directors (1978), the book adapation of Audie's doctoral dissertation, describes her life to that point like this.

Audie Bock was born in New York and grew up in Berkeley, California. After graduating from Wellesley College in 1967 she went to Japan where she taught English at International Christian University in Tokyo. Ms. Bock has been an editor for English-language books in Tokyo and has worked on Japanese cinema projects in both the United States and Japan. She has also taught Japanese cinema at Yale University and at Harvard University where she is enrolled in the Ph.D. program in fine arts. Ms. Bock also edited and coauthored the education material for the 1975 PBS television series "The Japanese Film"; since then she has served as Film Program Coordinator for the Japan Society of New York. In 1976-77, while in Japan on a Fulbright Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship, Ms. Bock also wrote film reviews for The Japan times.

Audie became very active in Alameda County and State of California politics. She served one term as a Green Party representative to the California State Assembly, for the municipalities of Oakland, Alameda, and Piedmont, in Alameda County, which includes Berkeley. She ran for a number of other offices, and once even ran for governor.

A long political "infomercial" on UCLA's Digital Library server includes the following remarks (circa 2003).

The Honorable Audie Elizabeth Bock (D)
California State Assemblywoman 1999-2000

Legislator * Democratic Activist
Environmental Leader * Teacher

. . . Assemblywoman Bock is a lifelong resident of Alameda County, educated through the Berkeley public school system. She holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Management, Executive Director, from the University of San Francisco; an M.A. from Harvard University in East Asian Studies; and a B.A. from Wellesley College in French. She is trilingual in French, Japanese, and English. . . . She was film director Akira Kurosawa's official translator in the United States and translated live for him in 1990 at the 63rd Annual Academy Awards Ceremony as he accepted a Lifelong Achievement Oscar. A motion picture distributor and a writer, Ms. Bock also authored several books, including a translation of Akira Kurosawa's memoirs and a textbook on renowned Japanese filmmakers. . . .

Yet another on-line source --, which attributes its information to Wikipedia Career (Creative Commons) -- describes Audie Bock's "Early Life and Career" like this.

Bock was born and raised in Berkeley, California. She attended Berkeley High School. She then attended Wellesley College, graduating in 1967.

For the next five years, she lived in Japan, near Tokyo, where she taught English and helped to publish English-language travel books.

After that, she returned to the United States to attend Harvard University, where she received a master's degree in East Asian studies. She stayed at Harvard to receive a PhD, where she wrote a dissertation on Japanese film directors. This involved returning to Japan and interviewing some directors, including Akira Kurosawa; the two struck up a friendship as a result.

Bock's dissertation was published as the 1978 book Japanese film directors . . . .

In 1985, Japan Society Gallery published Naruse: A Master of the Japanese Cinema, Audie's study of the director Naruse Mikio (成瀬巳喜男 1905-1969). His 1960 "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs" -- a faithful translation of its poetic Japanese title "Onna ga kaidan o noboru toki" (女が階段を上る時) -- was one of the films chosen for the 1975 PBS film series.

The Naruse film was telecast on the evening of Thursday, 6 March 1975, the day I moderated the "Japanese Films: A Cultural Mirror panel discussion in San Francisco, before a lunch-time audience of mostly businessmen and businesswomen. My closing remarks were as follows (based on my own script, the introduction and closing of which I followed very closely).

Thank you very much for giving us your time and attention. In closing, I would like to remind everyone that it is still Thursday, that it is still daylight outside, that you've got plenty of time to get home to watch this evening's film, When a Woman Ascends the Stairs, in which you will see something of the bars and cabarets in which Japanese businessmen and even businesswomen are thought to lubricate their interpersonal relations. Thank you.

Audie's book on Naruse became very hard to get. She mostly single-handedly pioneered English research on Naruse, among a few other directors she studied.