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Waseda University and Stanford University: From 1905 to 2020 and Beyond

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Waseda University Baseball Team at Stanford University, 1905; courtesy, Waseda University.
Waseda University Baseball Team at Stanford University, 1905; courtesy of Waseda University.

With the start of baseball season, a fun fact to note is that on April 16, 1905, the Tokyo-based Waseda University baseball team played the Stanford baseball team in California. Stanford beat Waseda 9-1. This game may have been the first formal event between Stanford and Waseda. Since then, Waseda and Stanford have engaged in numerous academic and research collaborations, student exchanges, and sporting events, and each has enrolled the other’s alumni in graduate and professional programs.

Nearly 115 years later, on March 3, 2020, SPICE offered a one-day seminar for Waseda students, all of whom are aspiring teachers. The visit to Stanford was initiated by Professor Hiroyuki Tanaka of Waseda University’s Graduate School of Teacher Education. The seminar underscored the importance of Waseda Vision 150, Waseda’s strategic plan that includes the goal of cultivating future leaders with global perspectives.

I began the seminar with a lecture on curriculum that introduced diversity in the United States and encouraged the future teachers to think about addressing the needs of an increasingly diverse student population in Japanese classrooms. The afternoon featured a panel of educators from SPICE that included Jonas Edman, Meiko Kotani, and Dr. Mariko Yoshihara Yang who spoke about teacher professional development, student-centered learning in Stanford e-Japan, and girls’ empowerment and SKY Labo, respectively; and a lecture on STEAM education by Yang that underscored the significance of the arts and its intersection with the STEM fields.

The seminar was highlighted by two student-led presentations. The first focused on Japanese school lunches by Graduate School of Teacher Education students Akihiro Baba, Yurina Kano, Hideki Nakamura, and Karen Tashiro, who aspire to be Japanese language, music, mathematics, and elementary school teachers, respectively. Their presentation stimulated a broader discussion of comparisons between Japanese and U.S. elementary schools as well as U.S. efforts—through the Licensed Agencies for Relief in Asia—that provided large amounts of food and clothing to Japan from 1946 to 1952. The second featured Waseda student Kuma Shibata, who spoke about bukatsudo (extracurricular school clubs), a feature of Japanese secondary education. Shibata, who aspires to become a physical education teacher, described the advantages and challenges of bukatsudo that included advantages such as the physical benefits of sports clubs and challenges such as the sometimes-extensive time commitments on the part of not only students but also teacher supervisors. Following the presentation by Shibata, who studies the sociology of sport, U.S. and Japanese perspectives on his academic area of interest were shared by the audience and Shibata.

Since the 2012 establishment of the San Francisco Office of Waseda USA, an initiative to promote the interests of Waseda University abroad, SPICE has had the pleasure of meeting and working with many scholars affiliated with Waseda. In addition to having had the experience of working with students of Tanaka for many years, SPICE has also had the pleasure of consulting and/or working with the following scholars at Waseda: Dr. Yoichi Aizawa, Professor Tetsuo Harada, Mr. Satoshi Hattori, MBA, Professor Kanetaka Maki, Professor Takao Mimura, Professor Atsuko Shimbo, and Professor Aya Yoshida. I have had the chance to consult with many of them about Stanford e-Japan, which Kotani described during the panel discussion. Since 2015, SPICE has offered Stanford e-Japan, an intensive online course taught in English that introduces Japanese high school students to U.S. society and culture and U.S.–Japan relations. Waseda alumnus Tadashi Yanai is the current supporter—through the Yanai Tadashi Foundation—of Stanford e-Japan. Admission to its fall and spring courses is very competitive with students from throughout Japan vying for only up to 30 slots per course.

Several high school students from Waseda’s fuzoku (affiliated high schools)—Waseda Jitsugyo High School, Waseda University Honjo High School, and Waseda University Senior High School—have been accepted into Stanford e-Japan. On August 6, 2020, SPICE will honor three of the top students of both the Spring 2019 and Fall 2019 Stanford e-Japan courses at a Japan Day event at Stanford University. One of the honorees will be Kota Watanabe (Waseda University Senior High School, Tokyo), who will be recognized for his coursework and exceptional research essay “A More Sufficient Language Learning Environment for Foreign Students in Japan: A Comparison with the American ESL Education System.” During the 2017 and 2018 Japan Day events, Waseda University Senior High School students Reon Hiruma and Naoya Chonan, respectively, were recognized for their coursework and exceptional research essays.

SPICE is proud to continue Stanford’s 115-year history of collaboration with Waseda University by helping to cultivate future teachers with global perspectives. To mark the quasquicentennial anniversary of the 1905 baseball game, I hope that Waseda will play Stanford again in 2030, and that students like Baba, Chonan, Hiruma, Kano, Nakamura, Shibata, Tashiro, and Watanabe will be in the audience cheering for Waseda, of course, but feeling at least some nostalgia for their experiences with Stanford.


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