Reischauer Institute

The Reischauer Institute at Harvard supports Japan scholars across the university and provides a forum for academic and public engagement with Japan through a number of scholarly events, cultural exhibitions, and service programs, including the Harvard for Japan project and the Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 disasters.

Established in 1973 as the Japan Institute, the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies now bears the name of its founding director and benefactor, a renowned Asia scholar and United States Ambassador to Japan (1961-1966). The institute's primary mandate is to foster teaching and research about Japan, across disciplines, and to engage public and academic interest in Japan through outreach activities. To this end, the institute hosts events (including performances and exhibitions, as well as scholarly talks and workshops); supports professorships in the field of Japanese studies; provides research fellowships for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows; promotes study abroad programs in Kyoto and Yokohama; hosts study forums and publishes newsletters; partners with the Japanese Consulate of Boston, the Japan Society of Boston, and other local organizations; and participates in two major efforts around Japan's recovery from, and documentation of, the devastation caused by the March 11, 2011, Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

Harvard for Japan, a coalition of faculty, staff, and students from across the university, aims "to spread awareness of the effects of the quake and the resulting aftershocks, tsunamis, and nuclear crisis and to help the affected regions." During the summer of 2012 a team was deployed to Minami-sanriku-chō to offer support and assistance in the rebuilding of this coastal community. The Harvard team not only met with local residents, architects, government agencies, and other interested parties to gather information and brainstorm ideas for redevelopment, they also participated in the hard physical and emotional labor of sorting through the rubble. Read more about their experiences and the town, and see their photos, on the Sanriku project blog.

The mission of the Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters is to "index, preserve and make widely accessible the digital records of the events of March 2011 and their aftermath; to provide a public space of information sharing, collaboration and conversation for citizens, researchers and policy makers; to serve as a site of shared memory for those most affected by these events and most concerned about their consequences." The archive was developed with assistance from Harvard's metaLAB and Center for Geographic Analysis, and from Zeega. Featuring maps and news stories, testimonials, photos, videos, and more, this multimedia participatory archive is the result of a growing global collaboration among institutions, researchers, and citizens.

Special thanks to Ted Gilman, Associate Director of the Reischauer Institute, for photos and information for this feature.

(Posted January 2013.)