The Japanese Language Program

Contact Information


Chair Timothy Van Compernolle (413) 542-2269
Director of Language Studies Wako Tawa (413) 542-7919
Department Coordinator Chris Williford (413) 542-5841

The Department

Voice (413) 542-5841

History of Amherst College and Japan

By Ray Moore In the 1870s, when Amherst College first encountered Japan, the Japanese were seeking knowledge from the West and Americans were trying to convert the world to Christianity. A key figure in the early contacts was Julius H. Seelye, professor and president (1876-1890), ordained minister in the Dutch Reform Church and a member of the American Board of Foreign Missions. In 1871 he welcomed to Amherst members of Japan’s Iwakura diplomatic mission, who were seeking a system of education to support the building a modern nation.


YūshienThe garden is located between Webster Hall and Kirby Theater. To visit the garden, use the western entrance of Webster and follow the signs leading to the garden's location. See Amherst College's campus map and driving directions.

The Asian Languages & Civilizations Major

Asian Languages and Civilizations

The Doshisha Asian Studies Prize

The Doshisha Asian Studies prize from the income of a gift from Amherst House, Doshisha University, is awarded for the best undergraduate honors thesis pertaining to Asia. Recommendations are made by the Asian Languages and Civilizations Faculty for work that exemplifies an understanding of Asian culture in a liberal arts context.

Past Winners

Bobbi Mason - Remembering, Rebuilding, Redefining Hiroshima: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Alice Wang - Ai Weiwei: The Politics of Art in Postmodernity

The Language of Love: Gates Cambridge Scholar to Study Troubadour Narratives

Submitted on Monday, 3/10/2014, at 12:30 PM

Already an accomplished speaker, researcher and teacher of languages, Terrence Cullen ’13 is one of only 40 U.S. scholars to receive a Gates Cambridge Scholarship this year. The award will cover his full tuition to the University of Cambridge, where he plans to earn a master of philosophy degree in European literature and culture in the university’s Department of Modern & Medieval Languages.