Dr. Dennis Masaaki Ogawa, Ph.D., was recently conferred The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa, for his “contributions to the development of Japanese studies in the United States of America and promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.” Ogawa has long been a professor of American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa.
“I am extremely humbled and grateful for this honor,” said Ogawa. “It is so special, especially as a Japanese American to be honored by the Japanese government, but also to know that most of my work has been to build relations between America and Japan.”
Ogawa has been teaching courses on Japanese Americans in the UH-Mänoa’s American Studies Department since 1969 — courses he himself pioneered. Among his lab instructors in the 1970s was gifted writer and storyteller Glen Grant.
Ogawa has authored several books, including “Jan Ken Po: The World of Hawaii’s Japanese Americans” and “Kodomo No Tame Ni — For The Sake of The Children.” He also co-authored a biography on the Hawai‘i Supreme Court Justice Masaji Marumoto with the justice’s daughter, Claire Marumoto. In addition to his efforts as an educator and author, Ogawa is also chairman and founder of Nippon Golden Network, a cable television channel that features movies and programs about Japan, its people, language and culture.
Ogawa earned his Ph.D. from UCLA in 1969, where he helped found the university’s Asian American Studies Center. He was born in the Manzanar Relocation Camp in Owens Valley, Calif., during World War II.
After receiving his imperial decoration, Ogawa traveled to Japan to pay his respects at the ancestral graves of his mother’s family in Obama, Fukui Prefecture, and his father’s family in Köchi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.
“I needed to say thanks to my Issei grandparents,” he told the Herald.