Classical Japanese News and Events

Washin Kai Lecture
Professor Paul Atkins giving Washin Kai Lecture
Washin Kai Lecture
Guests at Washinkai Lecture
Guests at Washinkai Lecture
Organizer of Washinkai Lecture
Guests at Washinkai Lecture
Guests at Washinkai Lecture
Ross Henderson speaks at the podium
Ross Henderson and Professor Paul Atkins
Ross Henderson
Guests at the Ross Henderson lecture reception
Washin Kai committee members with Professor Atkins
Ross Henderson standing in front of green shrub

The Washin Kai Endowed Program Support Fund at the University of Washington.

This important Washin Kai milestone of establishing an endowment to support in perpetuity the study of classical Japanese language, literature and culture at the University of Washington was celebrated on August 12, 2022 at a garden party hosted by the Consul General of Japan, Mr. Hisao Inagaki and Mrs. Yuki Inagaki. They attendees were UW Vice-Provost, Dr. Jeffrey Riedinger, Dean Dianne Harris of the College of Arts and Sciences, Professor Zev Handel, Chair of the Dept of Asian Languages and Literature, Professor Paul Atkins  and other community dignitaries.  David Yamaguchi of the North American Post wrote an article that describes this festive occasion. You can read a PDF of the article here.

Paul Atkins Awarded Selden Prize for Translation

Paul Atkins, Professor of Japanese, has been awarded the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize Japanese in Literature, Thought, and Society by the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University.

One of two winners of the competition for 2021, Atkins was awarded the prize based on excerpts from his book-length translation of Shōkenkō 蕉堅稿, a collection of 170 poems in classical Chinese by Zekkai Chūshin 絶海中津 (1336-1405). Zekkai was a medieval Japanese Zen monk, abbot, and accomplished poet who lived in China for nine years at the beginning of the Ming dynasty. As adviser to shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, he was involved in the restoration of official relations between Japan and China in 1401. The selection committee noted that “the translation of these texts into English, along with the transcriptional work that accompanied them, constitutes both a prodigious scholarly effort and a milestone in studies of this genre and period.”

Here is a sample from the awarded work, one of a series of fifteen poems titled “Living in the Mountains”:


Being lazy and inept, I cannot abide the worldly hustle and bustle.
Descending into the darkness and living among the lofty are what excite me.

I hear rain fall on the thick stands of bamboo outside my window
and the young pine that glows by the house sounds a little like waves.

This single cot is lonely and the place is as big as a snail’s shell;
the nine avenues of the capital are crowded and horses raise the dust high.

For a long time I have known that offices and rank are a burden,
and a homespun robe of lotus leaves is better than a cloak of brocade.

Established in 2014, the Selden Prize honors the scholarly legacy of Kyoko Selden (1936-2013) who taught at Cornell for many years and was a distinguished critic, editor, and translator of extraordinary scope. It is awarded for unpublished translations as a way of encouraging translation from Japanese into English of important humanistic texts and is accompanied by a cash award of $2,500.

Japanese Language and Literature Ph.D. student Ross Henderson has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship for study in Japan.


Twenty-two UW students and alumni were awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year, joining about 1,900 students and recent graduates from around the country to study and teach abroad, once and if international travel resumes.

The program has delayed the start of programs until Jan. 1, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The scholarship program is the largest U.S. international exchange opportunity for students to pursue graduate study, advanced research and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

The second Washin Kai Graduate Fellowship awarded to Nobuko Horikawa at the Asian L&L Convocation and Awards Ceremony

The 2020 Washin Kai Graduate Fellowship was awarded to Nobuko Horikawa, a graduate student pursuing her PhD in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature. During her year on fellowship, Nobuko plans to work on writing her dissertation centered around Japanese Edo era nuns and convents, and plan a research trip to Japan to obtain materials for her dissertation only found there.

The first Washin Kai - Japan Foundation Graduate Fellowship awarded at the Department of Asian Languages and Literature convocation ceremony

The 2019 Washin Kai - Japan Foundation Graduate Fellowship was awarded to Ross Henderson, Ph.D. candidate in Japanese Literature and Culture.  With this generous fellowship, Ross plans to use this year to continue writing his dissertation, pursuing publication, and planning a research trip to Japan.  

When delivering the award, Consul General Yoichiro Yamada recited a celebratory waka-style poem:
「喜べば 喜びごとが 喜んで 喜び集めて 喜びに来る。」
Roughly translated to, "If you are joyful, joys will get together and visit you."

Lecture at UW Converge Tokyo by Professor Paul Atkins

On November 17, 2018, Professor of Japanese Paul Atkins delivered a talk entitled, “Making It New in Medieval Japanese Poetry,” at UW Converge Tokyo.

UW Converge aims to connect international alumni to the UW’s leadership, knowledge, resources and networks. 

Watch the video of Professor Atkins' speech:

Japanese Language and Literature Program receives Japanese Foreign Minister's 2018 Commendation

On November 13, 2018, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs honored the Japanese Language and Literature Program, Department of Asian Languages and Literature with a 2018 commendation for its outstanding contributions to the promotion of education and research about Japan in the U.S.  

Asian Languages and Literature embodies this spirit of global connection and collaboration.

Starting in 1910 with a course on classical Japanese literature, the UW Department of Asian Language and Literature has been instrumental in the development and expansion of Japanese studies in the Pacific Northwest and across the U.S. The department also has long-standing collaborations with world-class Japanese universities, creating opportunities for faculty, students and staff to engage across barriers of culture and language.

Our goal is continue fostering this strong relationship between the university and Japan.

Professor Atkins interviewed in the North American Post

Professor Paul Atkins was interviewed by Bruce Rutledge from the North American Post about the early career choices that led him to focus on Japanese poetry and the poet, Fujiwara no Teika. 

To read the full interview in English from the North American Post, click here.
To read the interview in Japanese on the Soy Source website, click here.