Research ActivitiesWaseda University


Western and Japanese perspectives of Japanese Studies – The Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture


Ryusaku Tsunoda (Courtesy of Columbia University)

As part of the Waseda Ocean Initiative, Waseda University established the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture in January 2015. The center is led by Professor Sungsi Lee and its purpose is to become an international hub for global Japanese Studies and incorporate various perspectives of Japanese culture from Japan and the West. Waseda University is praised internationally for its research of Japanese Culture Studies and the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture will strengthen research and education by collaborating with Columbia University and UCLA, building global research models and networks, and encouraging faculty exchange programs.

Ryusaku Tsunoda, a pioneer of Japanese studies in the USA, studied under Shoyo Tsubouchi at the Department of Literature of Waseda University’s predecessor, Tokyo Senmon Gakko. In his 40s and after working as a junior high school teacher, Tsunoda traveled to the USA to study at Columbia University and founded the university’s Japanese Culture Center in 1929. From 1931, he lectured on Japanese studies for 31 years and educated future scholars such as Donald Keene. Tusnoda’s work that began over 80 years ago formed the foundation for global Japanese studies and is why Waseda University established the Center of Japanese Culture in his name.

The Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture will collaborate with Columbia University’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and UCLA’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures to advance research and education in literature, theater, and history. The center will create international graduate school courses and an undergraduate program that will train future scholars to spread Japanese culture studies to the world. The center will also build research alliances with leading international researchers and strengthen Waseda University’s position as a global hub for Japanese studies.


Picture from the left: Director Sungsi Lee,
Vice President Shuji Hashimoto, Professor Emeritus Donald Keene,
Professor Haruo Shirane

The opening ceremony was held on January 9th where Donald Keene shared memories of his time studying under Ryusaku Tsunoda and expressed his happiness for the center’s founding.  He commented, “I have been able to live a meaningful life thanks to Tsunoda Sensei. I may be 93, but I am still learning new things. This is what I learned from Tsunoda Sensei.”

Professor and director of the Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture, Sungsi Lee, commented, “This global Japanese studies research center will utilize the most sophisticated research methods, spread research achievements, and train future scholars to advanced Japanese studies around the world. I promise that this center will be the global model for research and education in Japanese Culture Studies.”

Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University, Haruo Shirane, commented, “Many Columbia University PhD students have received training at Waseda University where they had access to Waseda University’s library, the best resource for Japanese studies in the world. These students are now involved  in research and education at universities around the world. Forming international networks and examining Japanese studies from a variety of perspectives defines global Japanese studies.  By sharing research methods and achievements internationally, this center will surely become the best place in Japan for global Japanese studies.”


Ryusaku Tsunoda Center of Japanese Culture opening ceremony


※QS World University Rankings 2014 #36 World Ranking (#3 National Ranking)


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