Kan'ichi Asakawa

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Kwan-Ichi Asakawa.jpg

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[edit]

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]


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]

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

Asakawa helped found Asian studies in the United States.

Political perspective[edit]

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]


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.

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.

Selected works[edit]

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).



External links[edit]