Beloved professor Tadanori Yamashita passed away Wednesday, April 5, 2017, at the age of 87 in Hopkinton, following a battle with cancer.
Dr. Yamashita was born to Shinae and Shigeru Yamashita December 23, 1929, in Tokyo, Japan. He was the second youngest of four siblings: Eiko, Seiko, and Tadataka. Though a troublemaker in his youth, Tadanori always displayed intellectual curiosity and showed great academic promise, later gaining admission to Japan's prestigious Tokyo University. Following graduation, Tadanori moved to the United States to pursue his Bachelor of Divinity at Yale University, eventually earning his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization in 1963.
In 1963, Tadanori joined the faculty of Mount Holyoke College in the department of Religion, where he conducted research on Judaic Law and Zen Buddhism in addition to teaching. Tadanori was very active in the college community, where he helped establish the Asian Studies Program, and co-founded Wa-Shin-An, a traditional Japanese tea house and meditation garden, with his wife, Master of Tea, Nobue Socho Yamashita. Tadanori and Nobue also co-founded a Japanese language school in South Hadley, where they dedicated their time to teaching Japanese language and culture to their community. On May 10, 2000, Tadanori was honored with the Order of the Sacred Treasure by Emperor Akihito of Japan for these accomplishments.
Tadanori was an avid golfer, and was often seen playing at the Orchards Golf Club where he was a longtime member. Those who frequented College Street will fondly remember him shuffling to and from his office at Skinner Hall. In his free time, he enjoyed taking in live classical music, and regularly contributed to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. Though at one time he claimed to despise cats, through years of hard work and dedication his wife and children reshaped this view, and he became an enlightened appreciator of all felines.
Survived by his wife Nobue and his two children, Miki Yamashita, Takeshi Yamashita, and his daughter-in-law Elyssa Barrick.
A memorial service will be held in his honor Wednesday, April 12, at Center Church, 1 Church Street, South Hadley at 2 p.m. For information regarding the service, call Center Church at (413) 532-2262.
For any other information, or to contact the family call Takeshi Yamashita at (617) 314-0184.
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