EPIC interns in Ehime

Mr. Mathew Manako Tanaka (Hawaiian Language and Travel Industry Management double major) and Ms. Aurora Tsai (MA student in Second Language Studies)  are the 2012 summer interns for the Ehime Prefectural International Center(EPIC). The objective of the program is to foster friendship and understanding between Ehime and Hawai’i. The picture above is Manako and Aurora visiting Matsuyama Castle.

In Memoriam, Dr. Agnes M. Niyekawa

We were saddened to learn that Dr. Agnes M. Niyekawa passed away this past May 4, 2012, at the age of 87. She was born in Tokyo, and being the daughter of a diplomat, she lived in various places around the world, but closest to her heart (and accent!) was Vienna, where she spent most of her childhood.

Agnes earned her B.A. in English from Tokyo Women’s University in 1945, a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Hawai‘i in 1952, an M.A. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr in 1954, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from New York University in 1960.  Throughout the 1960s she did further post-doctoral training in the field of Linguistics at NYU, Columbia University, the University of Washington, and MIT, focusing on sociolinguistics, especially language learning, and the use of honorifics.

Following various teaching positions on the East Coast, she came to Hawai‘i for a stint as an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology (1964-67), then returned permanently in 1971, first as a Professor of Human Development, and then, from 1973, as a Professor of Japanese in the Department of East Asian Languages, where she also served as Department Chair from 1973-81.  During that time, she brought about sweeping changes in the department’s approach to language teaching.  From that time, at the university level she was also a key player in the establishment of the Japan Studies Endowment Committee, set up to administer proceeds from the $1,000,000 endowment UH received from the Japanese Government in 1972 for the support of Japanese Studies.  She continued serving on that committee well into the 1980s.

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Good-bye, Agnes

-By Bob Huey, CJS Director

The Center for Japanese Studies is sad to announce the passing of Dr. Agnes Niyekawa, Professor Emerita and former Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures.  Her life’s accomplishments will be spelled out in other obituaries.  I would, instead, like to share my personal experiences with her.  When I came to UH in 1985, she was one of a few faculty who still smoked.  We would gather outside in the stairway foyer of Moore Hall for an afternoon cigarette – Jim Araki, Agnes, and myself, a newbie in awe of such company.  Strange to say that such a bad habit brought me good fortune in getting to know those two.  (Considering Agnes was nearly 90 when she died, it doesn’t seem that smoking harmed her all that much, though she and I both quit a year later.)  We’ve kept in touch ever since then. Fast forward to July 2009.  I was invited to join a group that was going to meet the Emperor and Empress of Japan at Kapiolani Park.  Agnes was there, too, and sat next to me as we waited (and waited, and waited).  She mused how the last time she’d seen a Japanese emperor she was just a school girl, and she and her classmates had to lie face down in the street as he passed by.  Their teachers had terrified them with the consequences of trying to steal a glimpse of the Imperial Presence.  Now here she was, about to shake the Emperor’s hand, and chat with him!  After he passed down the receiving line, she broke ranks and darted out to get a photo of him.  There she was, in the background, on the news video that evening.  It made me laugh.  It still makes me smile, as do all of my memories of her.


Haruki Murakami Receives UH-Mānoa Honorary Doctorate

Photo of Mr. Murakami with U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka, who also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

At the Spring Commencement on May 12, 2012, renowned Japanese writer Haruki Murakami was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Hawai’i.  The citation accompanying the award states:

The Center for Japanese Studies congratulates Mr. Murakami on receiving this honorary degree, and thanks him for the time and attention he has given to UH faculty and students during his stay here as Visiting Writer-in-Residence in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures.