Since the early 1960s, Earlham and its faculty have been in the forefront of efforts in the United States to develop innovative programs linking Japan and America. Over the years many of Earlham's faculty have contributed to the richness of its Japan-related programs, but the critical foundations were laid by Jackson Bailey in the History Department, Leonard Holvik in the Music Department, and Arthur Little in the Theatre Department. The personalities of these three men have left an indelible mark on the Earlham approach to Japan, with its emphasis on the human dimension, and on establishing person-to-person connections at the grassroots level.
The College also has a long history of educating students of Japanese ancestry. In 1893, Chuzo Kaifu became the first Japanese man to earn an Earlham degree. He was followed in 1896 by May Morikawa, the first Japanese woman to receive the bachelor's degree from Earlham. There has been a steady stream of both Japanese and Japanese-American graduates since then, with between 10 and 20 Japanese citizens enrolled in full-time course work on campus annually.
Many of Earlham's current faculty have lived, worked, and studied in Japan, and know the Japanese language well enough to use it in teaching, research, and administration, as well as in conversation. The College has a standing commitment to maintain a secure foundation for the study of Japan by providing numerous opportunities for Japan-related faculty development and support.
Japanese language instruction began at Earlham in 1964. The Japanese Studies Program, which began conferring the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974, is widely recognized as one of the oldest and best programs of its kind in the United States. In the 35 years since its inception, over 200 students have earned degrees in Japanese Studies. On several occasions in recent years, as much as ten percent of the students enrolled at Earlham were studying the Japanese language, including both Japanese Studies majors and students concentrating in other fields in both the sciences and the humanities.
Earlham's graduates in Japanese Studies are currently working in business, diplomacy, government, public and human services, information technologies, the clergy, teaching, and educational administration. For these and many other reasons, Earlham continues to be widely known as one of the best places in the country to study Japan at the undergraduate level.
Read about Earlham's history with Japan (pdf)