UW Japan Studies Newsletters

Spring 2024 Mid-Year Update

Table of Contents

I. Martha Walsh Receives UW Distinguished Staff Award for Career Achievement

II. Article from TEAL Librarian Azusa Tanaka

III. Program Highlights

IV. Faculty Highlights

V. Alumni and Student Highlights

Martha Walsh Receives UW Distinguished Staff Award for Career Achievement

Martha Walsh, Managing Editor, Journal of Japanese Studies, and Senior Program Associate, Japan Studies Program at the University of Washington has been named the recipient of a UW Award of Excellence 2024. Walsh, who has been with the Japan Studies Program for over 40 years, was the sole person selected for the category of Distinguished Staff for Career Achievement from across the UW’s three campuses.

Learn more about why Walsh received this award here.

We invite you to celebrate her at the Awards of Excellence ceremony at 3:30 p.m. on June 6 in Meany Hall, Seattle campus.

Article from TEAL Librarian Azusa Tanaka

Tateuchi East Asia Library (TEAL) received a remarkable donation on November 30, 2023. Dr. Kenneth Pyle, (emeritus) and Mrs. Anne Pyle donated to TEAL two extraordinary scrolls, each bearing a handwritten Chinese poem by major figures in Japan’s history.

One scroll features a poem scribed by Itagaki Taisuke (1837-1919), a founder of Japan’s first political party, the Jiyū-tō (Liberal Party). The second scroll bears the calligraphy of Itō Hirobumi (1841-1909), Japan’s first Prime Minister and a paramount statesman renowned for authoring the Meiji Constitution. These artifacts, entrusted to the donors by their dear friend Miyaji Hiroshi (1925-2007), a distinguished professor of philosophy and head of Middlebury College’s language programs, carry a profound familial legacy. Miyaji was the great-grandson of Itagaki. His family had passed the scrolls down through generations as cherished heirlooms before Miyaji, shortly before his death, entrusted them to Dr. and Mrs. Pyle to decide where they should be permanently preserved.

Their decision was to offer the scrolls to TEAL. To accompany the scrolls, English translations of both poems were provided by professor Paul Atkins and can be found at the Japan Collection’s pageThese scrolls are cataloged by Japanese Cataloging Librarian/East Asian Serials and E-Resources Cataloging Librarian, Keiko Hill, and stored at TEAL’s Special Collections under the following call numbers:

Itagaki Taisuke, Hanhiki keiin suizan o tabanu. Call Number: NK3637.I83 A63 1919̣
Itō Hirobumi, Kanbai shi. Cal lNumber: NK3637.I86 A65 1800z

Users can request the scrolls for viewing by filling out the request form on this page and sending it back to TEAL circulation.

Azusa Tanaka
Japanese Subject Librarian, TEAL

Program Highlights

2024 Griffith and Patricia Way Lecture Recap

In her first public lecture at the University of Washington, Miriam Chusid, assistant professor of Art History, gave a talk entitled “Escaping the Highway to Hell: Death, Afterlife, and Buddhist Practice in Premodern Japan,” and became the 18th guest speaker of the Griffith and Patricia Way lecture series. In her presentation, Chusid gave us a glimpse of fourteenth century Buddhist rites related to death and also post-death for those souls needing more assistance in reaching the Pure Land. She focused on three themes and paths of escape from Hell to the Pure Land: funerary practices performed on behalf of the deceased, engaging in Buddhist practices for one’s own salvation, and the liberation of women. The presentation was illuminated with two sets of paintings showing scenes of Hell and the possibilities of redemption depicted by people in various stages of either torture or rebirth into the Pure Land. These paintings are owned by the temples Gokurakuji in Hyōgo prefecture and Konkaikōmyōji in Kyōto. Gender played a crucial role as women were primarily regarded as unable to achieve rebirth without the aid of men due to their perceived biological impurity based on their reproductive systems. Chusid argued that the tale of a monk named Mokuren who rescued his mother from Hell also had the power to protect any women who heard this tale from descending to the underworld. Citing tales of reincarnation and rebirth, as well as the eternal damnation caused by last minute distraction from focusing on the Buddha at the moment of death, a perilous landscape appears for believers hoping to achieve rebirth. Professor Chusid’s current book project entitled Envisioning the Afterlife: Image, Text, and Ritual Practice in Premodern Japan examines this topic closely by weaving together three lines of inquiry: an investigation of the iconographies and themes that patrons and painters incorporated into images of Hell; strategies of the use and display of these images; and the practice of the maintenance and repair of the paintings.

Faculty Highlights

Paul S. Atkins, Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature, wrote an article for The Conversation titled ‘What is the Japanese ‘wabi-sabi’ aesthetic actually about? ‘Miserable tea’ and loneliness, for starters,’ published on March 12, 2024.

Ken Tadashi Oshima, Professor in the Department of Architecture, curated a major exhibition titled “The Imperial Hotel at 100: Frank Lloyd Wright and the World,” which just opened at its third venue in Japan, the Aomori Museum of Art (Aomori City, Aomori). The exhibition is open from March 20 until May 12, 2024. The museum, located adjacent to the Sannai Maruyama jomon village, features earthen floors to complement the character of Wright’s “Organic architecture.”  The exhibition has been extremely well-received with major reviews in the Asahi Newspaper and Bijutsu Techo and is expected to receive more than 100,000 visitors.

Saadia Pekkanen, Professor in the Jackson School of International Studies, has been elected to a lifetime membership in the Council on Foreign Relations. She was also an editor of The Oxford Handbook of Space Security, published on March 12, 2024.

Alumni and Student Highlights


Adam Goff (JSIS Japan MA 1994) has taken on the new role of Chief Client Strategist for North Asia after 20+ years working at Russell Investments and has relocated to Tokyo, Japan.

Onur Kanan (MAIS Japan 2017) has been appointed as Japan Country Advisor for the Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye and is based in Tokyo.


Brian Park (History PhD student) received a Blakemore fellowship to attend the full-year Japanese language program at the Inter-University Center in Yokohama in 2024-25.

Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarships

Congratulations to UW students who are recipients of Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for summer 2024 and the 2024-25 academic year to support their Japanese area or language studies. More information about these and other recipients can be found at the FLAS webpage.

Academic Year Awards

Raechel Kundert (MA Asian Languages & Cultures) and Casey Stafford (MA Japan Studies)

Summer Awards

Nathaniel Kent (BA Engineering and Global & Regional Studies) and Mimi Martin (BA Asian Languages & Cultures and Global & Regional Studies)

Join us on Social Media for up to the moment information on the program, events, and more!

Facebook       Instagram       MailChimp      YouTube