Deceased October 9, 2023

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I, with sadness, report to you the passing away of Dr. Akira Arai, a member of the Amherst class of 1958, on the morning of Oct. 9, 2023, in Fujisawa, Japan.

Arai studied at Amherst as the second Uchimura Scholar. (The scholarship is in honor of a 19th-century Japanese Amherst graduate, Kanzo Uchimura 1887, the first Uchimura Scholar being Susumu Kawanishi ’56.) Arai became prominent in the studies of English and American literature in Japan. Arai’s specialty was John Milton. Besides his academic monographs and numerous articles, especially on Milton’s heroism, Arai’s solid but superbly readable translations of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained are a great contribution to the more general reading public interested in, but perhaps feeling intimidated by, the works of the 17th-century poet.

After teaching at Nagoya University and Tokyo University of Education (two national universities) and then at Otsuma and Japan Women’s Universities (two private), Arai assumed the presidency of Keiwa College, a small Christian liberal arts college founded much in the spirit of what Arai must have experienced in Amherst in the ’50s. 

I first met Arai in the interview when I myself applied for the Uchimura Scholarship, which eventually brought me to Amherst in 1992–94. (The embarrassingly hard-to-answer questions he fielded as an interviewer were very Amherst-like, or Amherst-English-like, or so they seem to me, in hindsight.) Later I came to see him regularly at the meetings of the Milton Center of Japan, where he shared his erudition as well as his passion for Milton with the younger Japanese Miltonists.

I wrote this note in the hope it would come to the attention of the members of his class, especially to those who majored in English like Akira, to remember him and the hours spent with him in Amherst English classrooms

Kensei Nishikawa ’94 (the 20th Uchimura Scholar)