The intellectual journey of Ray A. Moore, professor of history and Asian languages and civilizations, has been a beacon. It has taken him from the Lone Star State, to the Land of the Rising Sun, to Amherst, where, as a teacher and scholar for the past four decades, he has embodied the College’s motto: Terras Irradient, “Let them give light to the world.”
Born in 1933 to a family of Texas tenant farmers, Moore was picking cotton by age seven. In search of a better life, he left home early and joined the army at age fourteen. Military service during the Korean War brought him to Japan, and he has been fascinated by that country ever since.
Under the G.I. Bill, he studied at Tokyo’s International Christian University and the University of Chicago before earning A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Michigan. His early scholarship focused on samurai discontent and social mobility. Many would say that the samurai attributes of self-discipline, loyalty, commitment to truth, and courage define him as a scholar, teacher, and person.
Moore has become a leading scholar in the history of modern Japan and the American occupation following World War II, and his research has enriched our understanding of one of Japan’s most important documents, its modern constitution. His most recent book, Partners for Democracy: Crafting the New Japanese State Under MacArthur, was a 2004 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Among his many accolades are Fulbright and Ford Foundation Fellowships.
An inspiration to students on both sides of the Pacific, Moore was instrumental in establishing Amherst’s Asian Studies program and co-founded the Associated Kyoto Program at Doshisha University. To support Asian Studies at Amherst, he and his late wife, Ilga, have given generously, and the College has recognized them as Johnson Chapel Associates.
Close to Moore’s heart—and visible evidence of his love for both Amherst and Japan—is the Yushien Japanese garden that graces this campus. Asian Studies has indeed taken root at Amherst. And thanks to Ray Moore, the field will continue to blossom here.