Yori Oda, longtime Harvard Japanese teacher awarded Order of Sacred Treasure by Japanese government

Oda receives Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and silver rayes on April 29, 2013

On April 29th, the Japanese government announced that the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays, will be conferred upon Ms. Yori Oda, Former Senior Preceptor in Japanese at Harvard, in recognition of her significant contributions to promoting Japanese language studies and furthering the development of friendly relations between Japan and the United States of America.

Since 1968, Ms. Oda has introduced not only Japanese but also the politics, economy and culture of Japan as the overall person in charge of Japanese language studies at Harvard University.  Over a 35-year period, she taught more than 1,500 students.  Among them are prominent professors and business persons working for Japanese or American firms (and less prominent people such as the current President of the Harvard Club of Japan).

Ms. Oda came to play a bridge role when by chance she worked as an interpreter for the Mayor of Kyoto City in 1976 on his visit to Boston,Kyoto’s sister city.  She established a fund for the construction of Kyo no Machiya, a traditional Japanese house, which was gifted to the Children’s Museum of Boston by the city of Kyoto for the deeper understanding of Japanese culture.  Since 1979, Kyo no Machiya has become an eye-catcher at the Museum. Every year, over 400,000 visitors to the Museum tour Kyo no Machiya, and over 1,000 Americans experience Japanese culture every day. Kyo no Machiya, and the Japanese program at the Museum, have been maintained for over 30 years.

For 26 years from 1970 to 1996, Ms. Oda was a member of the board of directors of the Japan Society of Boston and contributed to various exchanges between Japan and the United States.  She contributed to preparations for the visits of the then Crown Prince and Princess and other imperial family members to Boston and received the John E. Thayer Prize from the Japan Society of Boston in 1994.

Ms. Oda has also contributed to the work of the Consulate General of Japan in Boston for 21 years from 1988 to 2007 as a member of the selection committee for JET program. She has invited ex-JET participants who have completed tenure in Japan to her home and given them precious opportunities to come in touch again with Japanese culture.

In light of these contributions, the government of Japan acknowledges Ms. Oda as an appropriate person to receive the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays and is delighted to announce the decoration.