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Washin Kai Goals and Case Statement


On behalf of the students and faculty, we ask for support to help us create, acquire, transmit, preserve, and disseminate knowledge about classical Japanese civilization: the language, literature, and culture of premodern Japan. 

Gaps in faculty coverage 

Although UW has a strong faculty lineup in Japan post-1868, there is only one professor on the faculty who is a specialist in the premodern era, i.e. before the Meiji period. Classical Japanese language and literature and their thousand-year history are taught by Professor Paul Atkins alone, and there are no professors at all who specialize in the history, religions, theatre, or art of Japan before 1868. This is a regrettable gap in an otherwise strong lineup. Traditional Japanese civilization is a source of great pride to many Japanese people and the object of admiration by people all over the world. Moreover, it may be said that Japan before 1868 is what makes Japan “Japanese” from an American or European perspective.

Student demand and further needs

  • An introduction to classical Japanese language, which requires three years of modern Japanese study as a prerequisite, is currently full at 22 students (Winter 2018).
  • Our course on the Japanese tea ceremony, chanoyu, taught by part-time faculty, fills immediately with 24 students.
  • We have observed that there is unsatisfied demand for undergraduate seminars on classical literature (e.g. The Tale of the Genji or Tale of the Heike) and for introductory courses on traditional Japanese drama (nō, kyōgen, bunraku, kabuki).
  • We currently do not offer a serious program of study in the history, art, or religions of Japan before 1868: that means no courses on the samurai, ukiyo-e, or Zen.

Successful outcomes

Recent Ph.D. graduates have been appointed to tenure-track positions at institutions including Dartmouth College, Kenyon College, the University of Maryland, Middle Tennessee University, and Portland State University. Unfortunately, many qualified applicants do not come to study at UW due to a lack of fellowship funding.

Brief history

Japanese literature has been taught at UW since the inception of Asian studies in 1909 and Japanese language since 1927. Previous faculty members in Japanese language and literature include the eminent linguist Roy Andrew Miller (1924-2014) and the scholar of Japanese theatre Richard McKinnon (1922-94). Both were decorated with the Order of the Rising Sun by the government of Japan.


Traditional Japanese civilization and culture, including classical Japanese language and literature, are a great source of pride to many people of Japanese descent, including those living abroad, and inspire admiration in people from all walks of life. There is also serious and wide interest in this topic among students at the UW, and among prospective students wishing to come here.
The necessary investments in this field of study will not occur without significant private support. Such support would have the added benefit of demonstrating to the leadership of the university and to the community the richness and importance of Japan’s cultural heritage.

Please click here to donate and support our cause.

Annual Cost                    Item                                              Description                                                    Endowed

$12,000                          Summer support for                    allow students to travel to Japan                  $300,000
                                        graduate student research          for archival research, advanced
                                        and travel.                                       language study, or fieldwork, help
                                                                                                  recruit and retain talented students
                                                                                                  and reduce time to degree.

$60,000                          Fellowship for graduate                allow us to recruit and retain                     $1,250,000
                                        students                                           talented students and reduce time
                                                                                                  to degree by freeing students from
                                                                                                  teaching responsibilities or outside
                                                                                                  work, permitting them to focus
                                                                                                  exclusively on their studies. It is
                                                                                                  common for institutions to offer
                                                                                                  multi-year fellowships to promising

$80,000                           Postdoctoral teaching                  allow us to welcome recent Ph.D.’s               $2,000,000
                                         fellowships for recent                  from another institution or even UW
                                         Ph.D.'s                                             to teach on a part-time basis with us
                                                                                                  while pursuing their own research,
                                                                                                  stimulating our intellectual community.

n/a                                   Professorships in premodern     allow us to recruit and retain talented         $3,000,000
                                        Japanese literature, drama,          faculty, who are the lifeblood of
                                        art, history, or religions                  our institution.            

(1)  Fellowships may be funded on an annual or endowed basis.  Endowments are funds created to support activities in perpetuity.  Funds are invested in the university's combined endowment fund, and only earnings are spent, not principal.  The figures above are based on the current endowment payour rate, which is 4%.  Due to their long term, professorships must be funded with endowments, not annual funds. 

(2)  Whether funded on an annual or endowed basis, fellowships and professorships can be named for individual donors, a group of donors, or a person or group whom the donors wish to honor, by mutual agreement with the university.