According to our archives, groundwork for the Osawa Program began in 1956 when Yoshio Osawa ’25 invited his classmates for a reunion in Japan; He is believed to be one of the earliest Japanese citizens to attend Princeton (if not the earliest).
“Altogether some 40 of his class headed by Charlie Caldwell, the famous football coach of the university in the single-wing formation days, flew across the Pacific (for a) two week reunion and sightseeing tour of Japan footed by “Seaweed Yoshio”. Reciprocating his hospitality, the tour group gave the university some sizable fund for scholarship to Japanese students going to Princeton.”
One of the recipients of this fellowship was Toshio Hara, who went on to serve as the President during the early days of the Princeton Club of Japan. In expression of its gratitude, the Hara Family donated a generous sum to the Princeton Club of Japan. The Club voted to use the funds to host two undergraduate students to Japan every summer to encourage interactions, develop mutual understanding and friendships between ordinary Japanese people and foreigners. “In July 1958, Hamilton Meserve and Jack Huddleston landed at Haneda Airport for their adventure in Japan”.
Initially, the Osawa Program was designed to have students reside in Tokyo for six weeks during which time they would be given assignments to meet and teach English to diverse groups of people (e.g., office workers, housewives, students, Geisha in tea houses in Asakusa, etc.). This activity had the added benefit of providing a modest income for to cover costs for running the program.
Luckily, the University took an active interest in the program after funds from the Hara family were exhausted. During his tenure at Princeton-in-Asia, Bob Atmore energetically expanded many programs, including ours. In 1994 Masakazu “Max” Tsumuraya was given executive responsibility of the program, and he has done an outstanding job organizing a big party to welcome Osawa Fellows – a gathering that has become the main summer event for Tigers in Japan.