On behalf of students and professors affiliated with the Department of Philosophy at UH Mānoa, we would like to acknowledge the passing of our Japanese language instructor and mentor, Shōji Kakuko 庄司香久子 (July 23, 1935 to July 7, 2022).
Generations of UH philosophy students since at least 1978 all learned their Japanese from Shōji sensei. As an instructor in East Asian Languages and Literatures, she oversaw the initial formation of a 590/591 reading series in philosophical texts. These courses allowed those students specializing in Japanese philosophy to pursue directed readings in works by authors from twentieth-century academic philosophers to Kamakura-period Buddhist monks. They also allowed students from a variety of departments in the humanities to access contemporary secondary literature in Japanese relevant to their own research. When the course series was eventually discontinued, Shōji sensei nonetheless kept on offering directed readings as independent studies on top of her regular teaching load. For at least one of us (Leah Kalmanson), Shōji sensei provided this instruction even after her retirement, meeting weekly on a pro bono basis to oversee ongoing translation projects.
Shōji sensei was always modest about her expertise in philosophical areas, but those of us who worked with her know that she operated as a trained classicist. Her facility with the conventions of literary and scholarly Japanese made it possible for us to navigate texts centuries old. Simply put, Shōji sensei was indispensable to the success of the Japanese program in the UH philosophy department for nearly forty years. She helped us access the texts needed to do our research, complete our dissertations, and pursue our careers.
We note that her influence extends well beyond the community of language learners at UH, as she is the author of numerous books on Japanese language that remain standards in the field, including Japanese Core Words and Phrases: Things You Can’t Find in a Dictionary and Basic Connections: Making Your Japanese Flow. As a group, we are so proud to have worked with Shōji sensei and so grateful for the time and energy that she graciously dedicated to the students of our department.
Leah Kalmanson, Steve Bein, James McRae, Kurtis Hagen, Steve Coutinho, Bradley Park, Ashby Butnor, Roger Ames, Graham Parkes, Tamara Albertini (Chair)