Tadanori Yamashita
1929 - 2017
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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.

To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to legacy.com/obituaries/gazettenet.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Apr. 11, 2017.
Memories & Condolences
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14 entries
May 26, 2018
To the family of Dr. Yamashita,
Dr. Yamashita was my thesis advisor and my academic advisor who helped me create the major of Jewish Studies at MHC. I am saddened by passing. He was a wonderful teacher and adviser to me during formative years. I laughed then, and still to today, when I tell people this Japanese minister was my advisor for my thesis on the Shema, the seminal prayer of Judaism. May his memory be a blessing. I will never forget him. Susan Lowenthal Axelrod, MHC '84
Susan Axelrod
September 11, 2017
He gave us roses & chocolates for Valentine's (:
Professor was always kind, and loved his students dearly. He was generous with us, and enjoyed it when we all ate together, or sat and chat. I remember all the times at Zazen, or the time a friend & I cooked dinner for him & Mrs Yamashita at their place - what lovely company. Sometimes, he said strangely funny things that made us pause & wonder if he meant it .. that made him memorable & honest. He had a big heart and was sincere in his emotions. Thank you, Professor.
Amelia Tang
August 15, 2017
My deepest sympathies to the family. I met Mr. Yamashita through Zen meditation and saw what a wonderful man he was. I am very sorry that I did not get to see him one last time. I will miss him.
Persa Batra
August 3, 2017
I only just heard of this sad news yesterday. Professor Yamashita was a favorite teacher and mentor and sat on my thesis committee. I always valued his kind and generous spirit. I felt like he really got me. I'm so grateful to have good memories from his classes and meetings with him. I still have my Zen diaries and will cherish them always as a memory of his teachings and mentorship. Peace be with you and your family.
Anna Bennett
May 9, 2017
Professor Yamashita introduced me to zen meditation, which has made a huge difference in my life. I practice daily and use the chant and techniques he taught our small group in Wa-Shin-An on Sunday evenings. I can remember so many of his wise sayings and teachings. Always humble and understated, he had a great enthusiasm for world politics which we discussed because I was a politics major. I also had the pleasure of attending a tea ceremony in Wa-Shin-An with Mrs. Yamashita.

For the many gifts you two conferred on the Mount Holyoke College community, I offer my most sincere thanks.
Sarah Chase '12
April 12, 2017
Fusa Iwamoto
April 12, 2017
Tho we didn't know each other long, you and your wife found a special place in my heart. It was my honor to be your housekeeper and server. Arigato Tadanori san! Rest in peace.

Lynn Collins
Lynn Collins
April 12, 2017
We have shared many AKP meetings over the years. I vividly remember your singing after dinners. Your voice gave stability to the organization. I haven't been to the AKP meetings for many years. Perhaps we will meet again in the world you have moved to.
Tamae Prindle
April 11, 2017
As a friend of Professor Yamashita's daughter Miki, I often encountered her parents at Miki's many concerts, plays, and comedy performances. I came to respect Tadinori's unusual intelligence and dry sense of humor. When the Emperor of Japan presented him with a medal for his work promoting Japanese culture, I gave him a silly little medal from my marching band days--asking that he hang it up next to the one from the Emperor and explain to visitors: "This one is from the Emperor and this one is from Steve O'Donnell", I understand, for a little while, he did. It was wonderful how many of his students appreciated what an interesting, thoughtful-- indeed unique-- teacher he was. A good man.
Steve O'Donnell
April 11, 2017
Reiko Sono
April 11, 2017
My deepest condolences to Nobue-sensei.
Naoko Nemoto
April 11, 2017
Thank you, Tadanori, for enriching all who knew you. Thank you, deeply, for the gift of two beautiful, funny, smart and supremely talented children. For you, Nobue, Takashi and Miki, we are forever grateful. Sincerely, Sue Brouillette
sue brouillette
April 11, 2017
I had Professor Yamashita for a religion class in one of his first semesters at Mount Holyoke. He and Nobue have been members of Center Church for many years and our two children were in school with his daughter and son. Tad was also an honorary for the MHC Class of 1968 and was our last living honorary. He will be missed.
Cynthia White Morrell '68
April 10, 2017
Yamashita-sensei was my first Buddhist Studies teacher. He helped me write my first haiku (which he was not shy to tell me was awful),directed my senior thesis on Ryokan (the man's patience knew no bounds), introduced me to a life-long practice of zazen (though still done poorly), and inspired me to become a small liberal arts professor of Buddhist Studies myself. I owe his teaching more than I can say.
Kammie Morrison Takahashi
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