Washin Kai - Friends of Classical Japanese

Poem by Hon'ami Kōetsu (Japanese, 1558–1637). Painting by Tawaraya Sōtatsu (Japanese, died ca. 1640). The Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/53246

Check out our upcoming events page for more information about future events. 

Washin Kai 和心会, also known as Friends of Classical Japanese at UW, is a group of volunteers from the Puget Sound community with strong ties to the university and to Japan.  Washin Kai was formed in the spring of 2018 in response to an appeal by the Department of Asian Languages and Literature to preserve and strengthen classical Japanese studies at UW.   Our main mission is to create a permanent fund at UW, dedicated to supporting the study of classical Japanese language, literature and culture.

UW has a long history of teaching and research in classical Japanese led by illustrious faculty members. However, Professor Atkins, a pre-eminent scholar in the field and an authority on classical Japanese poetry and drama, is currently the only UW faculty member who can teach pre-modern Japanese language and literature, and its over-thousand-year history.  Despite strong interest among students in these topics and an excellent placement record for PhD graduates as professors of classical Japanese around the country, UW currently has no financial resource dedicated to supporting this indispensable area of Japanese studies. Lack of dedicated funding puts UW at a great disadvantage, compared to other, better-funded universities, in attracting PhD candidates as well as recruiting and retaining additional faculty members.  The realization that this lack of funding poses an urgent threat to the future of classical Japanese studies at UW led us to form this group, which we named Washin Kai (和心会).

From our founding in 2018, Washin Kai has focused on two goals to achieve our mission of securing the future of classical Japanese literature studies at UW.  Our primary goal is to raise funds that support, sustain, and strengthen classical Japanese studies for future generations of students at UW.  Our second goal is to increase awareness and appreciation of classical Japanese at UW through public, educational events.

Focus on growing the next generation of educators and researchers:

Since its launch, Washin Kai has focused on our fund-raising efforts to support graduate students on their way to Ph.D.   The reason for focusing on Ph.D. student are many-folds:   For one, Ph.D. students are the ones who will educate the next generation of scholars.   Second, while there are many internal and external sources of funding for undergraduate education, those dedicated for graduate students are fewer.   Though many graduate students support themselves by teaching beginning language courses for some years, it is extremely difficult to carry a full teaching load while working on a Ph.D. because a doctoral dissertation in this field takes years of research in US and abroad.   Lack of financial support is a serious obstacle for students trying to earn a Ph.D., and this lack also makes it difficult for the university to recruit best students into the program.  

To date, Washin Kai has successfully raised funds to grant three full-year graduate fellowships to Ph.D. students in classical Japanese literature.  In 2019, the funds raised by Washin Kai were combined with one-time grant from Japan Foundation Fund at UW to award a graduate fellowship to Ph.D. student, Ross Henderson.  In 2020, the pledges of donations raised by Washin Kai were augmented by 50% match by UW’s Provost office, to provide enough funds for three more graduate fellowships.  Subsequently, Washin Kai Graduate Fellowship was awarded to a Ph.D. student Nobuko Horikawa for the years 2020-21 and 2022-23.  With these fellowship awards, Nobuko is expected to complete a Ph.D. dissertation on her pioneering research on poetry written in classical Chinese (kanshi漢詩) by Japanese nuns who were princesses of the imperial family in the Edo period (ca. 1600-1869).

Washin Kai Endowed Program Support Fund

Until 2021, all the funds raised by Washin Kai have been current-use funds, which are funds intended to support the current needs.  However, our eventual goal is to ensure the health of program into the future by establishing an endowment fund.   This year, we were able to take the first step towards this long-term goal, thanks to the generosity of late Dr. Tachi Yamada and Mrs. Leslie Yamada, who made the leading gift to establish a community-supported endowment fund, named Washin Kai Endowed Program Support Fund.

Washin Kai lecture series

Since 2018, we have organized a series of free, public events on classical Japanese literature to raise public awareness.  The topics have ranged from lectures on medieval poets and poetry, to performances of Rakugo and Noh drama, drawing hundreds of attendees.  During the pandemic, Washin Kai lecture series moved online, but we will be back in Kane Hall starting Fall 2022.  Please visit our Washin Kai Events page for more details and video-recordings of our past and future events.      

Please join us

Much work remains for us to grow Washin Kai Endowed Program Support Fund to sustain the classical Japanese studies in perpetuity.   Please attend our free, public events to learn about classical Japan and join us in helping UW to continue to be a center of excellence in Japanese studies.  


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