On Thursday, December 5, 2019, faculty, students, and staff gathered at the East Asian Languages Program offices to celebrate the awarding of this year’s Tazuko Ajiro Monane and Noma-Reischauer Prizes. Co-sponsored by the Japanese Language Program and the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the event was well attended, including an appearance by newly-designated Consul General of Japan in Boston, Setsuo Ohmori.
Currently a senior and fifth-year Japanese student, Devon is a concentrator in Psychology, focusing on Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology. In an acceptance speech delivered in both Japanese and English, he expressed deep gratitude to each of his past and present Japanese teachers by name.
Despite his initially taking first-year Japanese “on a whim,” the study of Japan became such a priority for Devon that he was selected this year as the recipient of both the Monane and the undergraduate Noma-Reischauer Prize. When Dr. Gavin Whitelaw, Executive Director of the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies, spoke about Devon later in the ceremony, he noted that Devon had visited Japan several summers in a row with Reischauer Institute support.
Dr. Whitelaw first stepped up to the podium to introduce the graduate Noma-Reischauer Prize recipient. This prize is awarded for the best essays on Japan-related topics written by both graduate and undergraduate Harvard students. This year’s graduate recipient, Feng-en Tu, earned his Ph.D. in 2019 from the East Asian Languages and Civilizations department, specializing in History and East Asian Languages (HEAL) and Japanese History. Dr. Tu was awarded the Noma-Reischauer prize for a paper titled “The Island of Fragrance and the Making of the Modern Smell.” The paper, which is closely related to Tu’s doctoral dissertation, was written for a Japanese history seminar. In it, Tu explored the history of camphor in colonial Taiwan and its role in Japan’s Imperial strategies and the rise of the modern chemical industry. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his advisor, Professor Shigehisa Kuriyama, for his guidance.
Feng-en Tu is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Harvard-Yenching Library, where he is working on East Asian digital humanities for the Manchukuo Collection. He is also the founder and CEO of one of Taiwan’s most popular blogs, storystudio.tw, for which Dr. Whitelaw called him “a true digital renaissance man.”