Founder of Japanese Studies and the Japanese Collection at Columbia University Honored With Event and Exhibition

NEW YORK, June 26, 2008 On June 11 Columbia University Libraries hosted a panel discussion at Butler Library to celebrate the career of Ryūsaku Tsunoda, founder of Japanese Studies and the Japanese Collection at Columbia University. Two of Tsunoda’s students and one of his colleagues gave presentations about the many aspects Tsunoda’s life and accomplishments. The presentations were followed by the opening reception for a special exhibition, Tsunoda Ryūsaku: His Life as a Bridge between Japan and America, now on view through August 27.


Donald Keene, University Professor Emeritus and Shinchō Professor Emeritus, and James Morley, University Professor Emeritus, both spoke about Tsunoda’s influence on their lives. Miwa Kai, Columbia’s retired librarian of the former Japanese Section of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library, was one of three panelists to speak. Also participating was Amy V. Heinrich, director of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, who chaired the panel.

Tsunoda Ryūsaku (1877-1964) was a graduate of the Department of Literature, Tokyo Senmon Gakko, which became Waseda University. The exhibition was originally organized by Waseda University Library, in collaboration with the Columbia University Libraries, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Waseda University. The exhibition, with materials never before publicly displayed, was held at the Okuma Memorial Tower, Waseda University, from October 20 to December 20, 2007. It was designed to introduce the life and contributions of Tsunoda, who, while he embodied the principles of international exchange, was not well known. An accompanying exhibition showcased the Tsunoda Ryūsaku Memorial Collection, his private collection that was donated to Waseda University Library. An International Symposium on Tsunoda Ryūsaku was held on October 30, 2007, at the International Conference Center on the Waseda campus.

Tsunoda lived in the United States through the pre- and post-World War II periods, primarily at Columbia University. In order to increase the exchange of knowledge between Japan and the United States, he established the Japanese Culture Center of America, the first full-fledged research institution devoted to Japanese culture in the United States. He devoted himself to the education of many Columbia students who, as scholars of Japanese Studies, have taken groundbreaking roles in the development of Japanese studies in North America and Europe. He is still referred to with the honorific accorded respected teachers, and called Tsunoda-sensei at Columbia.

Tsunoda formed a bridge not only between Japan and the United States, but between Waseda University and Columbia University, which have a formal cooperative agreement for intellectual exchange. It is great honor and pleasure for Columbia University Libraries to bring this exhibition to the Columbia campus to extend the knowledge of this pioneer of globalization from Waseda University in Tokyo to the Columbia campus in New York.

The exhibit, sponsored by Columbia University and Waseda University, is open through August 27, 2008 at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Butler Library, 6th Floor East, from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm, Monday through Friday.

For more information about the collection, see

The website exhibition hosted by Waseda University is available at

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06/26/08 LMK