Amherst-Doshisha Fellowship Overview

Doshisha campus in Japan. The photo is of brick buildings, plum trees in bloom, and a large evergreen tree.

History & Purpose: 

Located in Kyoto, Japan's ancient imperial capital, the Doshisha University was founded by Joseph Hardy Neesima of the Class of 1870, the first Japanese to graduate from a Western institution of higher learning. Neesima stowed away aboard a clipper ship from Japan while the country was still officially "closed." From the China Coast he eventually arrived in New England in 1865 aboard a ship owned by Alpheus Hardy, who was a trustee of both Phillips Academy, Andover, and Amherst College. After graduating from both Andover and Amherst, Neesima returned to Japan to found a Christian college in Kyoto. From this modest start, the institution developed into a University of 19,000 students, a separate (but adjacent) Women's College, four senior and three junior high schools, and a kindergarten, with a total enrollment of approximately 30,000 students on four different campuses. It is one of the oldest and best known private educational institutions in Japan.

Through the generosity of alumni and friends of the College, Amherst House, a New England Georgian style residence, was built on the Doshisha campus in 1932 as a memorial to Neesima and to Stewart Burton Nichols of the Class of 1922, the first student representative. It houses some twenty Doshisha students and serves as a center for cultural exchange between faculty and students from East and West. Since 1958, a graduating senior has been selected as the Amherst-Doshisha Fellow to live in Amherst House and assistant-teach/tutor in English for one year. Over 40 Amherst graduates and numerous faculty have taught at the Doshisha University.

Award Description: 

The Amherst-Doshisha Fellowship offers a unique opportunity for a graduating senior or Amherst alum (who graduated the year before the fellowship is awarded) to participate in the cultural life of the University in Kyoto, Japan -- the center of traditional Japanese culture. The environs of Kyoto are among the finest in Japan for the study of classical art and architecture. The Fellow resides at the university, but is not enrolled as a student. Instead, the Fellow meets with English language-learners one-on-one through office hours, and serves as an ambassador of present-day Amherst College to the community of Doshisha University.

Funding details:

The fellowship offers a stipend and an allowance for travel and incidental expenses, shared equally between Amherst College and Doshisha University.  The fellowship year is normally from September to August.  The academic year at Doshisha allows fellows to travel in Asia during February and March.


Any Amherst senior or alum who graduated the year before the fellowship is awarded is welcome to apply. Candidates should speak American-English well, but there are no citizenship requirements. Candidates should have the ability, on the basis of character and experience, to represent Amherst College to the Doshisha community. At least basic knowledge of Japanese language is desired so that the Fellow may actively participate in Japanese life and culture. Most recent Amherst-Doshisha Fellows have had some facility with the language. Fellows must be able to commit to the entire fellowship year. The Fellow arrives in Kyoto by September 1st. They spend the first month getting acclimated, with any responsibilities beginning on the first of October and continuing until February 1st. February and March are months in which the Fellow is free to travel. On April 1st, responsibilities resume and continue until August 1st. This timeframe is very firm; it is not possible for a Fellow to depart early, and no one should apply who cannot commit to this.

How to Apply

Seniors and alums submit the materials requested and fill in the application form here by January 18th, 2024 at noon. They must also request three recommendation letters, all of which are due by the same deadline. Applications are reviewed by the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, who then interview each candidate. The interview schedule is arranged by the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations. The Department selects one Fellow and one alternate. Although the Department's decision is made at the start of the Spring semester, the candidate is not notified immediately. The Dean of Faculty gives final approval to the selection, by early-to-mid February. Once that has occurred, the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations notifies the candidates of the selection. The selected Fellow must then confirm acceptance of the fellowship within two weeks of notification.

For Recommenders

Content: The Amherst-Doshisha Committee would like to know if this candidate would make a positive impression as a representative of Amherst College at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan, and that they will take full advantage of the cultural life of the university and environs. Please comment on the candidate's academic strengths, but also interpersonal skills, genuine interest in life and culture in Japan, and ability to assistant-teach or tutor English-language learners there. The candidate will not be pursuing graduate study in Japan. 

Format: Letters should be printed on institutional letterhead, signed, and scanned for upload to the Amherst-Doshisha Fellowship Faculty Recommendation form. You will receive an email with a link to the form, asking you to upload your letter by January 18, 2024. The candidate should provide you with a copy of their application.


Jessie Berlingo, Academic Department Coordinator, Asian Languages and Civilizations;                  
110 Webster Hall; 413-542-5841                                     
Mail: Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, Amherst College, 21 Quadrangle Drive, 110 Webster Hall, Amherst, MA 01002