Kan'ichi Asakawa

In this Japanese name, the family name is Asakawa.

Kan'ichi Asakawa (朝河 貫一, Asakawa Kan'ichi, December 20, 1873 – August 10, 1948)[1] was a Japanese academic, author, historian, librarian, curator and peace advocate.

Early life

He was born in Nihonmatsu, Japan. He studied at Waseda University in Tokyo.

In 1899, he earned a bachelor's degree (B.A.) at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.[2] He continued his studies at Yale University. He earned a doctor's degree (Ph.D.) in 1902.[3]


He lectured at Dartmouth in 1902. In 1906-1907, he was a professor at Waseda.

In 1907, Asakawa was appointed curator of the East Asian Collection at Yale's Sterling Memorial Library.[3]

Asakawa was an instructor at Yale from 1907 through 1910 when became an assistant professor. He became the first Japanese professor at a major American university. He taught history at Yale for 35 years.[3] Among those he influenced was John Whitney Hall.[4]

Asakawa helped found Japan studies and Asian studies in the United States.


After the end of the Russo-Japanese War, Asakawa began to speak out against the growth of militarism in Japan. In 1941, he tried to prevent war between the US and Japan.[5]

Selected works

In an overview of writings by and about Kan'ichi Asakawa, OCLC/WorldCat includes roughly 110+ works in 220+ publications in 5 languages and 2,400+ library holdings.[6]

  • The Early Institutional Life of Japan. (1903) [7]
  • The Russo-Japanese Conflict: Its Causes and Issues (1905)
  • The Origin of Feudal Land-Tenure in Japan (1914)
  • The life of a monastic shō in medieval Japan (1919)
  • The documents of Iriki, illustrative of the development of the feudal institutions of Japan (1922)

His works also included contributions to the publications Japan edited by Frank Brinkley (1904); the History of Nations Series (1907); China and the Far East (1910); Japan and Japanese-American Relations (1912); and The Pacific Ocean in History (1917).


Asakawa lived most of his life in the United States. In the history of the Japanese-Americans, he is considered among the Issei who were immigrants born in Japan.[8]

In 2007 the Asakawa Japanese garden at Yale, designed by Shinichiro Abe, was dedicated to mark the centennial of Asakawa's appointment as an instructor of history at Yale.

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