In Memoriam: Emeritus Japanese History Professor H. Paul Varley


It is with great sadness that we report the passing of a beloved colleague.

H. Paul Varley, a towering figure in the field of premodern Japanese history and Sen Sōshitsu XV Distinguished Chair of Traditional Japanese Culture and History at UH Mānoa from its inauguration in 1994 until his retirement in 2004, passed away on December 15, 2015.

Paul was born on February 8, 1931, in Paterson, New Jersey. A US Army Veteran of the Korean War, Paul went on to receive a BS Degree from Lehigh University in 1952, an MA from Columbia University in 1961, and a PhD in History from Columbia University in 1964 and came to UHM for his first teaching position (1964-1965). Paul then taught in the Department of East Asian Languages and Culture at Columbia University from 1965 to 1993.  During that time he established himself as this country’s foremost authority on medieval Japanese cultural history and compiled a distinguished body of publications.

Fortunately for UHM his retirement from Columbia as Professor Emeritus of Japanese History in 1994 did not mean the end of his career. Dr. Varley returned to UHM as the Sen Soshitsu XV Chair in 1994 and over the next 10 years taught courses such as Japanese Civilization (HIST 321/322), History of the Way of Tea (HIST 323), History of the Samurai (HIST 324), and Seminars in Japanese History (HIST 665B/C).

Over the course of his illustrious career, Paul published numerous books and articles, including such pioneering books as The Ōnin War (1967), Imperial Restoration in Medieval Japan (1971), Samurai (with Ivan and Nobuko Morris, 1974), Tea in Japan (with Kamakura Isao, 1989) and Warriors of Japan (1994). His Japanese Culture, first published by UH Press in 1974 and now in its fourth edition, remains a best-selling text. An active member of the Association for Asian Studies, the Japan Society, and the Konnichi Kai of Hawaii, Paul served on the boards of directors of the Urasenke Tea Foundation, New York, and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. In 1996 he received The Order of the Rising Star, Gold Rays with Rosette, from the Government of Japan in recognition for his contributions to the field of Japanese Studies

During his last years, Paul resided in New Jersey. He is survived by his wife, Betty Jane (Geiskopf) Varley, his daughter Sharyn Hennen, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

CJS Seminar: Parental Kidnapping and the Hague Convention

On Tuesday, November 17th, Dr. William Cleary, Law Professor at Hiroshima Shudo University and visiting scholar in residence at UHM’s Richardson School of Law, related some of the complexities of child custody in the case of failed international marriages where one parent ‘abducts’ their children back to his or her home country.  This is particularly a problem in the case of Japan, a nation without a legal concept of joint custody.  Dr. Cleary sees the recent decision by Japan to join the Hague convention as a step in the right direction, but not a silver bullet, as it is exterior to Japan’s own legal system.   He proposed a possible solution from within the system dealing with extraterritoriality and the ability to punish a Japanese national who commits a crime abroad, which has seemingly not yet been applied in custody issue cases.

LINK to flyer.


(l to r): CJS Director Lonny Carlile, UHM Law Professor Williamson Chang, Dr. William Cleary

CJS Presents: Wiki Slideshows on Japan

One of our more popular offerings, Wiki Slideshows on Japan, features multiple fast-paced academic presentations intended to inform as well as entertain. It made a triumphant return on Friday, November 6th, after hibernating for two years.

With CJS’s Jordan Trader taking up the role of emcee, three UHM faculty and three graduate students were given ten minutes to present on a subject of their choosing.  Dr. John Szostak, Associate Professor of Art History, analyzed Kobayashi Kiyochika’s satirical war prints. Dr. Hanae Kramer, Assistant Professor of Communications, presented on the prolific and humorously formulaic recording industry apparatus in early 20th century Japan.  Dr. Donald Womack, Professor of Music, gave an aural overview of his compositions that feature traditional Japanese instruments used in new, innovative ways. Ms. Yuka Hasegawa, PhD candidate in Anthropology, related her experiences leading walking tours in Koganecho, part of a community development project in Yokohama aimed at turning around seedy neighborhoods through art and exploration.  Mr. Hilson Reidpath, MA Student in East Asian Languages and Literatures, offered entertaining insights into the origins and effects of unique Okinawan names.  Mr. Kalau Almony, also an EALL MA Student, gave a masterly technical analysis of the evolving norms of masculine and feminine speech using Yamazaki Nao-cola’s “Growing Conversation” as a source text.  LINK to flyer.

(l to r): Hanae Kramer, John Szostak, Donald Womack, Jordan Trader, Hilson Reidpath, Kalau Almony, Yuka Hasegawa

CJS Seminar: Japanese Mythology in Film

On Friday, October 2, 2015, Dr. Yoshiko Okuyama, Associate Professor of Japanese Studies and Linguistics at UH Hilo, brought attention to not uncommon but commonly overlooked instances of Japanese mythology and folkore hidden in modern Japanese anime and animated films.  The large audience appreciated the opportunity to learn to see Japanese culture and tradition at work in such a popular and widely consumed medium.

Yoshiko2 Yoshiko1

In Memoriam: Emeritus Japanese Studies Professor James Brandon

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of a beloved colleague.


James R. Brandon, 1927-2015

James Rodger Brandon, beloved husband, trailblazing scholar, inspiring director, mentor, teacher, translator, actor, and friend, passed away in Honolulu on Sept. 19, 2015, leaving a remarkable legacy in the world of Asian theatre studies, a discipline he pioneered and fertilized with numerous scholars and artists he so graciously and carefully nurtured over half a century.  Born and raised in the small town of Mazomanie, Wisconsin, he joined the State Department Foreign Service after receiving his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1955, and spent six years in Java and Japan.  He returned to the U.S. in 1961 and began teaching Asian theatre in the Department of Speech and Comparative Literature at Michigan State University, where he directed his first two Kabuki plays in English, Kanjincho and The Zen Substitute.  He joined the University of Hawai‘i Department of Drama and Theatre as a full professor in 1968, and remained with U.H. until his retirement in 2000. During his 32 years with what became the Department of Theatre and Dance, he firmly established its unique Asian Theatre Program, co-founded the Asian Theatre Journal, served as Department Chair from 1985 to 1988, and brought international recognition to the department through his scholarship and large-scale English language Kabuki productions.

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