No.042 - Professor Haruo Shirane is first winner of the NIHU International Prize in Japanese Studies

Professor Haruo Shirane is first winner of the NIHU International Prize in Japanese Studies


We are delighted to announce that internationally active scholar of Japanese literature and culture Haruo Shirane has been selected as the first recipient of the NIHU International Prize in Japanese Studies. Dr. Shirane is professor of Japanese Literature and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University.

 The International Prize in Japanese Studies was established in 2019 with the support of the Kuraray Foundation, to recognize researchers of outstanding achievement in Japan-related humanities scholarship who have contributed to the international development of Japanese studies.

Nominees for the prize were recommended by research institutions in Japan and overseas. To decide the very first prizewinner, the screening committee followed a rigorous process that included consulting experts in Japan and abroad in evaluating the nominees.

Shirane (a U.S. citizen born in 1951) is a distinguished scholar and leading figure in the field of Japanese literature and culture active outside of Japan. He has taught at Columbia University for decades since receiving his Ph.D. in Japanese Literature there in 1983.

In addition to breaking new ground in studies of Japanese classics with his books The Bridge of Dreams: A Poetics of The Tale of Genji (Stanford University Press, 1987) and Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho (Stanford University Press, 1997), Shirane has also greatly inspired subsequent research endeavors by contextualizing the concept of “classic literature” based on the historical and cultural perspective of later generations with Inventing the Classics: Modernity, National Identity, and Japanese Literature (Stanford University Press, 2001); a book he co-edited with Tomi Suzuki. In Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts (Columbia University Press, 2012), he presented a fresh angle on environment, nature, and Japanese culture. His books have been translated into Japanese and profoundly influenced scholars in Japan; they also have been rendered into other languages, making research achievements available to Japanese studies scholars around the world.

Shirane, moreover, has been a driving force in Japanese literature studies and education in the West and other regions. His achievements include compiling anthologies of English translations of ancient to early modern Japanese classical literature—volumes that are mainstays for international scholars who specialize in Japanese literature—and publishing an English dictionary of and English textbook on the grammar of classical Japanese. Many students he mentored have become scholars in universities around the world, thriving in various arenas and leading the field of Japanese studies. Building on this wide-ranging network, Shirane has organized international academic conferences particularly at Columbia University, and, in turn, greatly contributed to globally expanding the world of scholarship on Japanese literature and culture.

These outstanding academic research achievements and extensive contributions to the international development of Japanese studies have made Haruo Shirane a deserving first recipient of the International Prize in Japanese Studies. The delight he expressed in hearing the news made us appreciate even more the value of this prize. The award ceremony will be held in December 2019 at the Japan Academy in Tokyo. It is our hope that the recognition this award offers the remarkable Professor Shirane will further accelerate the international advancement of Japanese studies.

Text: Makoto Sato (Executive Director, NIHU)



Monographs and edited volumes by Professor Shirane.

Anthologies and translations by Professor Shirane.