The Asiatic Society of Japan Welcomes You!

Who We Are

The Asiatic Society of Japan (ASJ) serves members of a general audience that have shared interests in Japan.

ASJ is Japan's oldest learned society. Inspired by the Royal Asiatic Societies of their day, ASJ's founders set into motion coordinated activities "to collect and publish information on subjects relating to Japan and other Asiatic Countries." Yet they intentionally differentiated ASJ from these affiliated societies at the outset by having established a "Society for scholarly gentlemen" rather than a society of scholars. Nor was "Royal" to be used in ASJ's title, a measure to encourage Japanese people to join. Women also began to join within a few years. ASJ quickly became the first organization of its kind in Japan to promote the sharing of discoveries about Japan to the rest of the world.

ASJ's founders and earliest members were pillars of Japan's modernization and industrialization at the dawn of the Meiji Period. Physicians, engineers, barristers, missionaries, military officers, professors, and diplomats numbered among them, including Dr. James Hepburn, Sir Ernest Satow, Basil Hall Chamberlain, and William Aston. They taught while leading the transformation, but they were learning and discovering, too. It was the excitement of discovery and the voracious appetite of people overseas for those discoveries that drove ASJ's explosive growth during its first 50 years.

ASJ's members have met regularly since the first meeting in Yokohama in 1872. As in Hepburn's day, we come from many professions and occupations. What unites us is our aspiration to scholarliness by how we pursue our investigations and discoveries about Asiatic Countries, most especially Japan.

What We Do

In the tradition of our founders, our members meet monthly to hear a guest explain his or her discoveries based on original research. The lectures last approximately fifty minutes and are followed by questions and discussion. Topics come from the full spectrum of fields of knowledge as related to Japan, including culture, history, literature, science, business, politics, and economics. 

Recent topics have included:

Japanese Netsuke: Treasured Miniatures
Japanese Government, San Francisco Treaty, & Disposition of Okinawa
On the Life of the Meiji Emperor
Sumo: Samurai to Cyberspace
Edwin O. Reischauer
The Rediscovery of the Japanese Sword
The Role of Women in Kyogen
The Tokugawa Art Collection
The Brush of Asia and the Forms of Europe

The lectures are occasionally followed by receptions. ASJ also holds events beyond the monthly meetings.

Members receive a copy of ASJ's annual journal, "The Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan." The Transactions contains the full texts of selected papers presented at meetings, as well as other articles submitted to ASJ's Council. ASJ also publishes a monthly newsletter, the Bulletin, containing a detailed summary of the previous month's lecture, lecturers' profiles, announcements of coming events, and news of ASJ and its members.

Members can also participate in visits to special exhibitions at museums and art galleries, and other events arranged for members.

Outstanding Lecturers

ASJ strives to draw the best lecturers from academia, government, business, and many other fields:

HIH The Crown Prince
HIH Prince Mikasa
HIH Prince Takamado
Dr. Donald Keene
Dr. Jacqueline Wasilewski
Mr. Yoshinobu Tokugawa
Mr. Kenji MIshina
Professor Brian Falconbridge
Dr. Hisaaki Yamanouchi
Dr. Maria Pia Casarini
Mr. Masumi Muramatsu
Dr. Jane Compton
Sir Hugh Cortazzi, GCMG
The Rev. Dr. Neal Henry Lawrence, OSB.
HE Ambassador George Sioris (ret)

An Invitation

We invite you to experience an ASJ meeting as our guest. Meetings are held monthly (except during the July-August recess) at 18:30, usually on the third Monday of each month. The venue varies, so please call ASJ office or check our website for the latest details.

We look forward to you joining us!
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Patron: Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado

In 1997 The Asiatic Society of Japan welcomed as its Honorary Patrons Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Takamado, longtime supporters of the Society. To our profound sadness, HIH Prince Takamado passed away on November 21st, 2002. HIH Princess Takamado continues her gracious support as Honorary Patron.

ASJ has been especially fortunate to have received addresses from its Patrons. At our Annual General Meeting in 2000, HIH Princess Takamado spoke on a topic that drew upon environmental themes from her book for children entitled "Lulie the Iceberg." At the following Annual General Meeting, in 2001, HIH Prince Takamado addressed ASJ on "Japanese Netsuke: Treasured Miniatures", a fascinating exploration of traditional Japanese miniature carvings. After the lecture, His Imperial Highness allowed ASJ to view a special display of netsuke pieces from his own collection, and arranged for a master netsuke carver to provide a carving demonstration.

HIH Princess Takamado has supported and enlightened the ASJ with lectures in several fields of study. Highlighting the 2004 Annual General Meeting, she addressed The Birds of Asia)- Their Role in spreading the Environmental message.

HIH Princess Takamado provided further insight into her enduring fascination with the carved miniatures in an address to the 2012 Annual General Meeting with Netsuke and Netsuke Collections.

ASJ expresses its sincerest appreciation for the tremendous dedication and support of TIH Prince and Princess Takamado over the years.

The Council

The Council of The Asiatic Society of Japan is an all-volunteer board elected by the membership to manage ASJ. The Council executes its functions in accordance with the articles of the Constitution of The Asiatic Society of Japan. Elections are held annually at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The function of the Council is to serve ASJ's members and preserve ASJ in accordance with the Constitution for the benefit of current and future generations.

If you are a member of ASJ, please feel free to contact the Council anytime to express your views. Please contact the ASJ Office for contact information of individual Councilors.

Interim Council for 2018

Mr. Shungo Akizuki

Dr. Erich Berendt (1,3,5)

Dr. Robert Eldridge

Dr. Mark Lee Ford (1,4,5) 

Mr. Masa Matsushita, Interim President (1,2,5,6)

Dr. Makoto Okamoto (7)

Dr. Garrett Polman (1,2,5)

Mr. Lennox Samuels*

Mr. William Swinton**

Mr. Keiichi Yamanaka


1. Compliance and audit oversight

2. Finance oversight

3. Academic oversight

4. Technology oversight

5. Governance oversight

6. Operations oversight

7. Reconciliation oversight

*Transactions (reports to Academic oversight)

**Lectures (reports to Academic oversight)


The Asiatic Society of Japan
c/o Tokyo Health Care University
2-5-1 Higashigaoka, Meguro-ku 
Tokyo 152-8558  JAPAN


Phone/Fax: +81 (0)3 3795 2371