KAWAKITA Jiro [ Academic Prize 1993 ]
- Academic Prize 1993 [4th]
- Scholar of Ethnogeography
- Japan / Area Studies, Ethnology, Folkloristics
- Born May 11, 1920 （aged73）
Professor Kawakita Jiro is an eminent scholar of ethnogeography in Japan. Through his fieldwork and research on the Himalayan Highlanders of Nepal, he has established a distinct methodology in field sciences and revealed the system of the people, culture, way of life and ecology. His achievements have immensely contributed to research and social activities in Japan as well as in Nepal.
- * At the time of receipt of the Prize.
Professor Kawakita Jiro is an eminent scholar of ethnogeography and Nepalese studies in Japan. Based on his university research studies in the East Asia and the Pacific region, Professor Kawakita began scientific career by establishing a climatic classification method. Through this method he derived the indexes for his temperature and humidity concepts. Although these concepts, which explain the geographical distribution of plants and agriculture, were rather simple, they surpassed all of the explanations available by American researchers. Due to the extensiveness of this work, it became quite evident that Professor Kawakita's primary interest was analyzing the man-land relationship of different societies.
While visiting the Himalayan region in 1953, his ecological research further developed. It was during this expedition that Professor Kawakita met people from Nepal and Tibet, who later became the focus of his lifetime field research. The product of this journey's research was a 455 page scientific report which is considered to be a first-class report about foreign lands, and was written in English by the Japanese. The analytical and synthetical format of this report reveals an exceptional understanding of the Himalayan Nepalese culture, religion, way of life, and ecological circumstances. Until this time, much of this information had not yet been presented.
At the same time, his two books entitled "Journals of Expedition to the Nepali Kingdom" and "Land of Platform Burial" became best sellers in Japan. The writing style of these books was straight forward and in layman's terms, thus making the information about these unknown and intriguing countries easy for Japanese people to understand. These publications have not only significantly contributed to the academic community, but have also assisted in explaining the differences of culture to the common person. Since then, Professor Kawakita has continued to develop his methodology and systematic ethnogeographical research on Nepal, and remains a pioneer in the discipline of Nepalese studies in Japan. His research in the latter part of his career has not been restricted to scientific journals, but has been embellished with field research. In pursuing this field work, he seeks to support his belief by obtaining from the chaos in which everything coexists. His outstanding characteristics such as being a devout field researcher and a pragmatist have enabled him to obtain outstanding accomplishments. His meticulous research manner has yielded the KJ Method; a problem solving methodology. Furthermore, on the pragmatic side, he has promoted technological cooperation between Japan and Nepal based on new, original scientific perspectives.
The contributions Professor Jiro Kawakita has made in the field of ethnogeography and Nepalese studies have transcended the traditional separation of scientific and public information. Therefore, Professor Kawakita is truly worthy of Domestic Category of the Academic Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prizes.