In this feature, student writer Adio Alexander interviewed Director of Research Mariko Nagai.

Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) supports the research and creative works of students and faculty, by funding research-related travel and faculty-driven initiatives, and supporting events like TUJ Film Festival and the Minato Citizen’s University Lecture Series. Also, guidance through the sometimes long and complex research application process of third party institutions is provided.
Director of Research Nagai is an associate professor in classic and contemporary Japanese literature, a writer and a translator. She also organizes an event series called “Brown Bag Lectures” where students and faculty can “share where they’re coming from and discuss their research.”

Support leads to success

Encouraging and supporting people “financially and emotionally” while learning about them and their research is something Nagai enjoys. “I love learning what people are interested in,” said Nagai.
There are some who’ve been supported who go on to be recognized for their work. According to Nagai, hearing of their success is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

Where one belongs

Nagai has been teaching since 1999 and has spent the majority of her teaching career at TUJ. Prior to this, she taught at Keio University, Shonan Fujisawa Campus, and other institutions. After spending many years in the U.S., and used to an American style education, she was “unsure if she was really having an impact on her students in a Japanese environment.” Once coming to TUJ though, she started to feel at home. “TUJ was a lot of work, a lot of grading, a lot of consulting, but it felt like the right place to be.”

Outside work

When Nagai is not learning about other people’s interests, she indulges in some interests of her own such as textiles. Fabric and the process by which clothing is made she finds fascinating.
She is also interested in “dyeing arts and crafts” and has found a new hobby: reeling silk from silkworms. “Every month I go to Gunma to study from a silk farmer,” said Nagai.

Building New Bridges

This fall, TUJ will move to Showa Women’s University in Sangen-jaya. Nagai is planning community events similar to the Minato Citizen’s University Lecture Series. She hopes, though, that TUJ can maintain its relationship with Minato-ku, as it would be a shame to lose something “we’ve worked so hard to build.”
Nagai’s always interested in hearing what people are doing, so give her a visit on the 6th floor of Azabu Hall. You will be warmly welcomed.

By Adio Alexander
Adio is a junior international business studies major at TUJ, interested in specializing in economics and world trade. She is trilingual — English, Japanese and Mandarin — and hopes to be able to speak five languages by 2020. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and watching old films.