To view our page properly please enable javascript in your browser

Professor Emeritus Mikiso Hane, 1922-2003
Internationally renowned scholar of Japanese history
December 10, 2003

GALESBURG -- Mikiso Hane, Szold Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and an internationally renowned scholar of Japanese history, died Monday, Dec. 8 at OSF-St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. He was 81.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m., Saturday, February 14, in Kresge Hall, Ford Center for the Fine Arts. Speaking at the memorial will be Hane's daughter, Laurie Hane, a 1981 Knox graduate; George Eaton, a 1980 Knox graduate; Louis Perez of Illinois State University, an Asian Studies scholar; and retired Knox College faculty members Rodney Davis, William Brady and Douglas Wilson.

Memorials may be made to the Hane Fund at Knox College.

"No scholar has done more than Mikiso Hane to enable Westerners to understand what Japan's modern history has really meant to the Japanese people," wrote historian John Dower of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about Hane's books in 1992.

Hane was born in 1922 in Hollister, California, to Japanese immigrant parents and lived there until the age of ten, when his parents sent him to Japan, where he lived with an uncle and attended school in Hiroshima.

Hane returned to the United States in 1940, and following the outbreak of war with Japan in 1941, he was interned by the United States government in a camp in Arizona from May 1942 until October 1943.

After 18 months in the internment camp, Hane applied for a position teaching Japanese at a program operated by the U.S. Army at Yale University. Following the war he earned college degrees at Yale — a bachelor's degree in 1952, a master's degree in 1953, and a doctoral degree in 1957 -- paying his own way through college by teaching Japanese and setting type for an Asian studies journal.

Prior to coming to Knox in 1961, Hane taught at the University of Toledo and did post-doctoral research in Japan and Germany as a Fulbright Research Fellow.

Hane taught a wide range of history courses at Knox -- including Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Russian history, as well as the traditional Western civilization sequence -- from 1961 until his retirement in 1992. He also taught independent study courses in Japanese language at Knox and directed off-campus studies programs in Japan and Hong Kong. Hane continued researching and teaching at Knox until last month.

Hane wrote numerous scholarly articles and 14 books, including four widely used college textbooks on Japanese history and two highly regarded studies -- "Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan," and "Peasants, Rebels and Outcastes: The Underside of Modern Japan."

Hane's books on women and peasants -- segments of Japanese society often overlooked in traditional histories are credited with revolutionizing Japanese historical scholarship through extensive use of personal narratives. "The oral history tradition started in the United States with Studs Terkel's interviewing style," Hane told an interviewer in 1983. "I wanted to know what life meant for peasants, as individuals, in pre-war Japan; how women viewed life. I am interested in the personal experiences of individuals."

According to Dower, Hane went beyond "the elites and famous intellectuals... to those ground beneath the wheels of so-called progress. and he has revealed this to us in the most simple and eloquent way possible -- by letting the Japanese speak in their own numerous and varied voices."

Dower said Hane's research has been "more than just a significant scholarly accomplishment. It is a great humanistic contribution as well."

Hane published a number of English translations of important Japanese works, including "Studies in the Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan," by the Japanese historian Masao Maruyama. He wrote four articles for the Japan Encyclopedia, including the article on Emperor Hirohito, and spoke and presented papers at scholarly conferences worldwide.

In 1991 Hane was nominated by President George H. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate for membership on the National Council on the Humanities -- the most prestigious appointment that a humanist can receive.

Hane also served on the committee on teaching of the American Historical Association, and as a grant consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was elected to the Northeast Asia Council and the board of directors of the Association for Asian Studies.

Following Hane's retirement in 1992, Knox College created the Mikiso Hane East Asian Studies Prize in his honor. And earlier this year, the Midwest Conference of Asian Studies created the Mikiso Hane Undergraduate Research Prize in Asian Studies.

"Miki Hane's thoughtful teaching of generations of Knox students, his acclaimed scholarship and his life as a good humored and gentle member of the Knox Community defy hasty summarization," said Knox College President Roger Taylor. "Virtually all members of the campus community and his hundreds of students cherish fond memories of Miki's life. Those memories can serve as some solace in this time of loss to the Hane family and to the Knox Community."

Hane is survived by his wife Rose Hane of Galesburg, daughters Laurie Hane of San Francisco, California; Jennifer Hane (husband David Padowitz) of Mountain View, California; brothers, Mitsuzi (and Setsuko) Hane, Gatoshi (and Masako) Hane, and Isao Hane, all of California; and sisters, Hisako Kajioka, and Grace (and James) Yamakawa, both of California.

A memorial service will be held at Knox at 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 14, 2004.

The Hane family has requested that memorials be made to the Mikiso Hane Fund in Japanese Language and Studies at Knox College. The fund, established in 1992 by Knox alumni in Japan and friends of Professor Hane on the occasion of his retirement, will foster understanding of Japanese and Asian history. After gifts to the fund reach a sufficient level, it will be used to endow a faculty position, to be known as the Mikiso Hane Chair in Japanese Language and Studies.

To mail a donation
Include a brief note or a mention on the check memo line referencing the Hane Fund, and send to:
Knox College Advancement Office
Campus Box 230
2 E. South St.
Galesburg, IL 61401

To donate by phone or on-line
Memorial gifts to the Hane Fund may be made with Visa or MasterCard by calling 888-566-9265, or on-line through the Knox Alumni Office secure server. (If paying on-line, please note "Hane Fund" in the comment box marked "Other.")



Peter Bailley
309 341 7337

Mikiso Hane