UCLA International Institute, April 21, 2022 — The UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies has conferred the first Irene Hirano Inouye Award on Indra Levy, executive director of the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies and a renowned scholar of Japanese studies at Stanford University.
Levy will deliver a memorial lecture in honor of Hirano Inouye in Los Angeles to an invited audience in early June. An award ceremony and the lecture will be held at the residence of the Consul General of Japan to Los Angeles, with the evening graciously cosponsored by the Japanese consulate and the Terasaki Center.
“As executive director of the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies (IUC), I was quietly hoping that one of our many accomplished alumni would be recognized for the Irene Hirano Inouye Memorial Award,” she said.
“What a surprise to learn that I was the one who was chosen! Irene Hirano Inouye made innumerable contributions to U.S.-Japan relations. It is a deep honor to receive an award named after her, and so heartening to know that the award committee places so much value on the work of the IUC.”
Hirano Inouye (1948–2020) was a legendary Japanese American woman whose work as a philanthropist, community organizer and champion of social causes contributed greatly to U.S.-Japan relations. A founding chair of the Terasaki Center’s board of advisors, her contributions and advice also advanced Japanese studies at UCLA.
Levy is an associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures and of comparative literature at Stanford whose research explores the technical, literary and cultural aspects of translation.
She has served as executive director of the IUC, which is based in Yokohama, since 2010. The center offers advanced Japanese-language training to up-and-coming Japanese studies scholars. Established by Stanford University in 1961, it is administered by a consortium of American and Canadian universities — UCLA among them — with strong Japanese studies graduate programs, that send graduate students to the IUC to perfect their skills in written and spoken Japanese.
Levy’s leadership of the program at a critical time of uncertainty in the mid-2010s enabled it to survive and continue to provide unparalleled Japanese-language training to young scholars doing research in Japan in preparation for academic careers. At a time when the IUC experienced significant cutbacks in its funding, putting the program’s very survival in jeopardy, she raised millions of dollars, rallied IUC alumni to provide critical support and made other structural changes and reforms that have put the center on a secure footing for years to come.
Although not widely recognized for their contributions, institutions such as IUC are critical for nurturing scholars in Japanese Studies. Levy’s tireless dedication to supporting Japanese Studies at all levels, including those abstracted from the public view, reflects Irene Hirano Inouye’s own commitment to advancing U.S.-Japan relations at both a local and global scale.
“Indra’s unflagging support of the IUC and her work to preserve it led the Terasaki award committee to select her as the first recipient of the Hirano Inouye Award,” said Keith Terasaki, son of the late Paul I. and Hirano Terasaki and chair of the advisory board. “The IUC is crucial to preparing the next generation of scholars in North America who can both deeply understand Japan and facilitate U.S.-Japanese understanding.
“Indra is also known among her peers and students as a dedicated and selfless mentor, an academic tradition that we are delighted to honor.”
“Indra’s contributions to Japanese literary scholarship and her service to the field of Japanese studies in many ways echoes Irene Hirano Inouye’s service to the greater Japanese American community,” said Hitoshi Abe, director of the Terasaki Center, professor of architecture and urban design at UCLA and head of the architecture firm Atelier Hitoshi Abe.
“We are pleased to confer the award on Indra and look forward with anticipation to her memorial lecture.”
Levy is the author of “Sirens of the Western Shore: The Westernesque Femme Fatale, Translation and Vernacular Style in Modern Japanese Literature” (Columbia, 2006) and editor of “Translation in Modern Japan” (Routledge, 2010).
The literary scholar has also authored or co-authored numerous articles published in peer-reviewed journals, among the most notable of which are “Newspaper Journalism, Realism and Modernism in Japan: From Kanagaki Robun to Kawabata Yasunari” (Dibur 9–10, Fall 2020–Spring 2021; with T.K. Young) and “‘Comedy’ Can Be Deadly: Or, How Mark Twain Killed Hara Hoitsuan” (Journal of Japanese Studies 37 (2), 2011).
Levy’s courses at Stanford focus on a range of topics, including Japanese literatue and performance tranditions, critical translation studies, skills and methodologies and “place” in modern Japan, and are supplemented by many independent study courses focused on directed reading or research.