Kan'ichi Asakawa

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Kan'ichi Asakawa
Kwan-Ichi Asakawa.jpg
Born(1873-10-20)October 20, 1873
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan Fukushima,Nihonmatsu
Died August 10, 1948(1948-08-10) (aged 74)
Other names 朝河 貫一
Occupation Japanese academic, author, historian, librarian

Kan'ichi Asakawa(朝河 貫一,Asakawa Kan'ichi, December 20, 1873 – August 10, 1948) was a Japanese academic, author, historian, librarian, curator and peace advocate. Asakawa was Japanese by birth and citizenship, but he lived the major portion of his life in the United States.


Early life

He was born in Nihonmatsu, Japan, and was educated at the Fukushima-ken Jinjo School in Fukushima Prefecture and at Waseda University in Tokyo before he traveled to the United States to study at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. He was awarded his BA degree in 1899. [1] He continued his studies at Yale University, earning his Ph.D. in 1902. [2]

Fukushima Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Fukushima Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Tōhoku region. The capital is the city of Fukushima.

Waseda University Private university in Tokyo, Japan

Waseda University, abbreviated as Sōdai (早大), is a Japanese private research university in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Founded in 1882 as the Tōkyō Senmon Gakkō by Ōkuma Shigenobu, the school was formally renamed Waseda University in 1902.

Tokyo Metropolis in Kantō

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, has served as the Japanese capital since 1869. As of 2018, the Greater Tokyo Area ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The urban area houses the seat of the Emperor of Japan, of the Japanese government and of the National Diet. Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo was formerly named Edo when Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters in 1603. It became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is often referred to as a city but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.


He lectured at Dartmouth College in 1902; was a professor at Waseda University (1906–07); an instructor at Yale University (1907–10); and became an assistant professor at Yale University in 1910. He carried on special research in Japan in 1906-07 and 1917-19. He became a professor at Yale University in 1937, becoming the first Japanese professor at a major American university. He was the author of many works on Japan, his scholarly interest being medieval history. He taught history at Yale for 35 years. [2] Among those he influenced was John Whitney Hall. [3]

Dartmouth College private liberal arts university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States

Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League research university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. Established in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, it is the ninth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Although founded as a school to educate Native Americans in Christian theology and the English way of life, Dartmouth primarily trained Congregationalist ministers throughout its early history. The university gradually secularized, and by the turn of the 20th century it had risen from relative obscurity into national prominence as one of the top centers of higher education.

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

John Whitney Hall, the Tokyo-born son of missionaries in Japan, grew up to become a pioneer in the field of Japanese studies and one of the most respected historians of Japan of his generation. His life work was recognized by the Japanese government. At the time he was honored with Japan's Order of the Sacred Treasure, he was one of only a very small number of Americans to have been singled out in this way.

In 1907, Asakawa was appointed curator of the East Asian Collection at Yale's Sterling Memorial Library. [2]

Sterling Memorial Library library at Yale University, USA

Sterling Memorial Library (SML) is the main library building of the Yale University Library system in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Opened in 1931, the library was designed by James Gamble Rogers as the centerpiece of Yale's Gothic Revival campus. The library's tower has sixteen levels of bookstacks containing over 4 million volumes. Several special collections—including the university's Manuscripts & Archives—are also housed in the building. It connects via tunnel to the underground Bass Library, which holds an additional 150,000 volumes.

Asakawa helped found Asian studies in the United States.

Political perspective

After the end of the Russo-Japanese War, Asakawa began to speak out against the growth of militarism in Japan. He dedicated himself to serving as a bridge between the United States and Japan to promote amicable relations. In 1941, he sought to avert war between Japan and the United States by trying to convince President Roosevelt to reach out to the Japanese emperor with a personal telegram. [4]

Russo-Japanese War war between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan

The Russo-Japanese War was fought during 1904-1905 between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea, Japan and the Yellow Sea.


Every summer, Dartmouth students who are studying Japanese abroad in Japan take a trip to Asakawa's hometown of Nihonmatsu, and pay homage by visiting both the high school where he studied, and his grave site. Some of his remains are interred at Kanairo Cemetery in Nihonmatsu, and others are interred in the Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.

Grove Street Cemetery cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut

Grove Street Cemetery or Grove Street Burial Ground is a cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut, that is surrounded by the Yale University campus. It was organized in 1796 as the New Haven Burying Ground and incorporated in October 1797 to replace the crowded burial ground on the New Haven Green. The first private, nonprofit cemetery in the world, it was one of the earliest burial grounds to have a planned layout, with plots permanently owned by individual families, a structured arrangement of ornamental plantings, and paved and named streets and avenues. By introducing ideas like permanent memorials and the sanctity of the deceased body, the cemetery became "a real turning point... a whole redefinition of how people viewed death and dying", according to historian Peter Dobkin Hall. Many notable Yale and New Haven luminaries are buried in the Grove Street Cemetery, including 14 Yale presidents; nevertheless, it was not restricted to members of the upper class, and was open to all.

New Haven, Connecticut City in Connecticut, United States

New Haven is a coastal city in the U.S. state of Connecticut. It is located on New Haven Harbor on the northern shore of Long Island Sound in New Haven County, Connecticut, and is part of the New York metropolitan area. With a population of 129,779 as determined by the 2010 United States Census, it is the second-largest city in Connecticut after Bridgeport. New Haven is the principal municipality of Greater New Haven, which had a total population of 862,477 in 2010.

In 2007 the Asakawa garden in Saybrook College, designed by Shinichiro Abe, was dedicated to mark the centennial of Asakawa's appointment as an instructor of history at Yale.

Saybrook College

Saybrook College is one of the 14 residential colleges at Yale University. It was founded in 1933 by partitioning the Memorial Quadrangle into two parts: Saybrook and Branford.

Selected works

His works also included contributions to the publications Japan edited by Capt. F. Brinkley (1904); the History of Nations Series (1907); China and the Far East (1910); Japan and Japanese-American Relations (1912); and The Pacific Ocean in History (1917).


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