*ahem* in my best Professor Farnsworth voice: "Good News everyone!"
I'm very excited to be able to officially announce that I am one of two annual scholarship recipients for the 2009 to 2011 Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation award at the University of Hawaii.
This is very generous two year scholarship with a great deal of prestige attached to it in Japan studies circles in Hawaii.
The history behind Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship dates back to 1959 when it was established in arrangements between the Japanese American community in Hawaii and the Imperial Household as a endowment to celebrate the wedding of then Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko. Over the past fifty years, 129 graduate students from Japan and Hawaii have become recipients of scholarship and have gone on to become notable scholars and professionals. Annually, two University of Hawaii graduate students and two graduate students from Japan are chosen as recipients. In addition to the incredible history attached to the scholarship for which I am now a proud recipient, scholars are also invited to the Japanese Imperial Palace for an audience with the Imperial Majesties during the period of their scholarship. From my understanding, the reason the name of the scholarship retains the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship even though they are now the Imperial Majesties of Japan is because the scholarship began as a wedding present.
This year, 2009, the scholarship fund is in its 50th year and as the scholarship was originally a wedding present, the Emperor and Empress of Japan are also celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. On the way back from a trip to visit Canada in July 14 to 16, the Imperial Majesties stopped in Honolulu, Hawaii for a reception. (Here is a very nice news series by local newspaper, the Honolulu Advertiser that follows the Imperial visit to Hawaii.) During their visit, there were three days of events related to the 50th anniversary of the scholarship and I was able to attend all three days.
On July 14th there was a small gathering for scholars and, as I was one of the new scholars in attendance, I was asked by the local Honolulu media to do several short on-air interviews. I was really taken off guard as I had just arrived to the function in a two-piece suit in 90 degree weather and was immediately asked to do an interview. Despite five minutes of chatting with me, I can see why only nine seconds was used, as I was a bit flustered and could have used a comb! Ha Ha. Below are some links to the news items and videos.
It looks like KHNL channel 8 in Honolulu pulled the video already which is a shame as it was the longer interview with me:
If you have the patience to watch the full news cast for those two days you'll also get related news stories about the Imperial Visit in Hawaii (note- steaming feeds not Mac OS X friendly):
KHON channel 2 in Honolulu still has a video up and also a nice explanation of the history of the scholarship:
The night of the 15th was the biggest event when a dinner banquet was held for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko and was attended by 1500 guests.
The really incredible part of that evening is that the Imperial Majesties met in a smaller reception with only the Crown Prince Akihito Scholars in attendance, which was about 60 or so individuals. While it should be expected for an event such as this, the amount of press and security was surreal. In contrast, even though my meeting with the the Imperial Majesties was brief they really do have an incredible aura of grace and calm surrounding them.
On July 16th, the Imperial Majesties departed for the Big Island and the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation held a day-long meeting in an academic conference format. Throughout the day, three panels filled with alumni scholars as presenters discussed the impact of the scholarship on their careers and personal lives. As the new scholar not yet starting my field research in Tokyo, I found it fascinating to listen to the details of their original scholarship research experiences as well as their current academic careers. And its a eclectic group: from NASA scientists to Noh performance professors.