Letters from HUAP

Dr. Kenneth J. Ruoff

Professor, Director of the Center for Japanese Studies (CJS), Portland State University, appointed as a Hokkaido University Ambassador in July 2019

When I was offered the appointment of HU Ambassador, I remembered the amazing time that I spent at Hokkaido University as a joshu (research associate) and then kõshi (lecturer) in the Faculty of Law, from 1994-96. I also remembered in particular amazing Seijigaku kõza kenkyukai (Study Group for the Political Science Course), after which all of us would go to a local restaurant such as Tõhoku hanten (Chinese restaurant which is still in business in Sapporo) and continue the discussion while eating delicious food. When I was at Hokkaido University from 1994-1996 I was researching my Ph.D. dissertation which then became the book The People’s Emperor: Democracy and the Japanese Monarchy, 1945-1995, a work that I suspect that some Hokkaido University alumni are familiar. There were numerous professors in the Faculty of Law who helped me with my research, but it was Professor Katsutoshi Takami in particular who spent hours and hours helping me understand various constitutional issues related to the emperor, for example constitutional interpretation about the status of the emperor, etc.

My overall impression of Hokkaido University’s research programs and initiatives is world-class. Hokkaido University has long been the academic home of leading scientists such as Ukichiro Nakaya and leading social scientists such as the constitutional scholar Mutsuo Nakamura, and so many other scholars whose work enjoys a worldwide following. I just became an HU ambassador, but I very much want to deepen exchange programs between HU and Portland State University, not only student exchanges but faculty exchanges too.

The opening of the new Hokkaido University Portland Office is a fascinating new development to which we must give positive shape. I would imagine that HU’s new Portland Office can play an important role in facilitating all sorts of collaborative projects that go far beyond Japanese Studies (my own field).

Like Sapporo, Portland is a genial city that enjoys a high quality of life. It also attracts a large number of tourists, but not to the extent that they become an annoyance. Like Sapporo does with Hokkaido, Portland enjoys, in terms of food, the incredible richesse of the Pacific Northwest. Portland is only one hour from the ocean and one hour from Mt. Hood*. So, in addition to Portland, one can easily enjoy all that the stunningly beautiful coast has to offer, or go to Mt. Hood for everything from hiking to skiing.

Please keep Hokkaido University the wonderful place that it is! What I mean by that is that it is important to maintain both the delightful physical environment that defines Hokkaido University, and the cultural environment, which when I was there was incredibly open, promoting a non-hierarchical pursuit of the truth, or at least multiple ways of interpreting any issue. What I enjoyed most of all about my time at the Faculty of Law is that at kenkyukai, graduate students felt as free as to ask questions of the speakers as did senior professors.

* Mt. Hood: A stratovolcano located 80km southeast of Portland. The highest peak in Oregon at an altitude of 3,429 m. There is the Timberline ski resort where is the only place you can enjoy skiing throughout the year.

The Appointment Ceremony for Prof. Ruoff in Portland, U.S.A. (June 2019)

Professor Larry Kominz introducing to the audience the famed scholar Donald Keene who made a special trip to see an English-language kabuki version of the “Revenge of the 47 Loyal Samurai” (Chushingura) directed by Dr. Kominz, a disciple of Dr. Keene. PSU is renowned for its rich public programming about Japan.

Sea lions resting on a dock in the Port of Astoria, where the mighty Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Patrick Ruoff at Trillium Lake with Mt. Hood in the background, in the incredible Mt. Hood National Forest.

ケネス・ルオフ 氏







*フッド山: ポートランド市から東南東80kmの位置にある成層火山。標高3,429m、オレゴン州最高峰。北米で唯一、年間を通してスキーを楽しめるティンバーラインスキー場がある。