Filed in Zen (Chan)

Masatoshi Nagatomi Remembered

Duncan Ryuken Williams

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© Masumi M. Nagatomi"You bow like a Japanese," Masatoshi Nagatomi told me with his characteristic giggle. Thus began nine years of mentoring in Buddhist studies until his passing last year. He assured my worried Japanese mother that I would be safe in America and that he and his wife would look after me. His grandfatherly kindness extended co invitations for dinners at Thanksgiving, gifts of Japanese pickles, and the officiating of my Buddhist wedding. I am sure that during the course of his almost forry years at Harvard, every student of Mas Nagatomi similarly felt his bodhisattvic kindness and his dedication to nurturing his students not only in scholarly life, but also in life more broadly.

Nagatomi joined the faculty at Harvard University in 1958 as an instructor in Sanskrit, and by 1969 had been designated Harvard's first professor of Buddhist Studies. Although the study of Sanskrit and Indian Buddhism marked his training at Kyoto and Harvard Universities, his astonishingly broad mastery of languages allowed him co work on Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese Buddhism as well. He was an active member in many learned societies, including the American Oriental Sociery, the American Academy of Religion, and the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies. He retired from Harvard in 1996 after training students in every Buddhist tradition, supervising over thirty doctoral dissertations and scores of master's theses. In his dedication to his students . . .

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