The Noma-Reischauer Prize in Japanese Studies traces a distinguished history to 1995, the year the award was established by Kodansha, Ltd. Publishers in honor of Professor Edwin O. Reischauer. Each year the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies grants Noma-Reischauer prizes to the best essays authored by Harvard students on Japan-related topics. The 2013-2014 awards were presented to Jakobina Arch, a fifth-year GSAS PhD candidate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, for an excerpt from her dissertation entitled, “Whale Graves and Whale Spirits: The Place of Whales in Early Modern Japanese Religion,” and to Sarah Ngo ‘13 for her undergraduate thesis entitled, “Fans Afloat: A Study of the Types of Attributes of Japanese Fan Screens.”
The prizes were conferred during a joint ceremony on Friday, December 6th together with the annual Tazuko Ajiro Monane Prize for accomplishments in the study of the Japanese language. Underwritten by the Tazuko Ajiro Monane Memorial Fund and granted by the Japanese Language Program in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, the prize recognizes outstanding Japanese language learners who have completed at least two years of study at Harvard. This year’s recipient, Jenni Ting ’15, graciously thanked her instructors and family members present at the event, first in Japanese before translating her speech in English. Japanese Preceptor Yasuko Matsumoto, one of Jenni’s former instructors, emphasized Jenni’s skills in applying her knowledge of the language to her most recent summer internship in Japan. Endorsements from faculty members at the event, including Ted Gilman, Executive Director of the Reischauer Institute, confirmed Jenni’s impressive conversational abilities.
Following the award ceremony, guests were treated to sketches and sing-a-longs performed by students enrolled in the Japanese Language Program. The first dialogue featured Jenni as a game-show host, demonstrating her proficiency with the language and her talents in engaging an audience. Guests joined in on the performances as the afternoon wore on, dancing and cheering, while others chatted over sushi rolls and tea or perused copies of the winning essays.
The scope of the essays submitted for the Noma-Reischauer Prize and the spirited conversation sparked by the Tazuko Ajiro Monane Prize, not to mention the lively atmosphere and the number of attendees to the event, attest to the enduring popularity of Japanese studies at Harvard.