Satomi Kurosu, Ph.D. has been a 20-year participant in the Eurasia Project, a 5-country comparative research project on 18th and 19th Century life event trends, which has resulted in a highly regarded demographic trilogy. The first book focused on mortality, the second on reproductive rates, and the final and most recent focused on marriage patterns. In the latest book, Similarity in Difference: Marriage in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900 (Eurasian Population and Family History) from MIT Press, Professor Kurosu and her colleagues from four other countries compared European marriage patterns with those of East Asia. The painstakingly researched book paints a nuanced picture of the individual and social determinants of marriage across five counties that both confirm some patterns of the standard Malthusian paradigm while demonstrating the wide variety of nuance within the European and Asian populations. Dr. Kurosu discussed the international aspects of the program by saying, "I enjoyed collaborating with colleagues from Sweden, Italy, Belgium, and China; researchers from 5 countries including me from Japan all working together."
Reitaku: The Launch Pad of Career
Dr. Kurosu is the Dean of the Graduate School of Language Education and Director of the Population and Family History Project at Reitaku University as well as a Professor of Sociology. A specialist in historical demography, Dr. Kurosu is a key member of the cross-national comparative Eurasian Project and serves on the Board of Directors of the Population Association of Japan. Under Dr. Kurosu's careful watch, Reitaku University has become the repository of thousands of ancient historical documents (births, deaths, marriages, etc.) from all over Japan. We recently sat down with Dr. Kurosu in her office to discuss her academic background, the motivation behind her studies, and how Reitaku University prepared her for international studies.
Reitaku University was the launch pad Dr. Kurosu's career. As she said, "I received my bachelor's degree right here at Reitaku University, which prepared me to go to the States to get a PhD at the University of Washington, in Seattle. That's where I started to study Sociology and to work on population and family. More specifically, my focus was on Family Sociology and Demography. Then, I came back to Japan to work at the International Center of Japanese Studies (ICJS) in Kyoto, which was part of the Ministry of Education. That is where I met the field I am working on now: Historical Demography."
It was in Kyoto that, as a research associate, she began her association with renowned Professor Akira Hayami, the founder of the Historical Demography in Japan, and an Order of Culture honoree. Dr. Kurosu stated, "I was still using Sociology methods and techniques, but, I supplemented this by accessing the records of the Tokugawa Period of Japanese history. This approach was taught to me by Professor Hayami, and it really drew me into this field."
Back to Reitaku
Eventually, she left ICJS to become a professor at Reitaku University. When asked if she thought she would ever become a professor, she replied, "No way. Not at all. My path to becoming a professor just evolved. I was happy as a researcher in Kyoto, but when Professor Hayami came to Reitaku University, just by coincidence, after being a research associate for 8 years, I decided to join him here at Reitaku. So, that's how I started to teach at Reitaku."
Dear Kurosu spoke very fondly about her time as an undergrad at Reitaku University, where she majored in English. She said, "My area of specialty was Shakespeare. I really enjoyed learning and speaking the English of that area (late 16th Century). I was also an active member of the Kendo club." In speaking of her well-rounded education at Reitaku, Dr. Kurosu stated, "Our school does a great job of preparing its graduates for the world."
As an example, Dr. Kurosu touted Reitaku's language programs: "When I entered the University my level was like a typical Japanese high school student, but by the time I graduated I was ready to study in the States. Our foreign language program is still great." And based on the excellent work Dr. Kurosu is leading, the same can be said of Reitaku University as a whole.
Now she is making way for her juniors.
(Jeff Roah, Graduate Schools in Japan)