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Thayer Award

For outstanding contributions to the cultural exchange between the United States and Japan

Thayer Award History

The John E. Thayer, III Award was established in 1991 to commemorate the work and commitment of John E. “Jack” Thayer, III, a long time member of the Japan Society’s board of directors who was dedicated to furthering relations between Japan and the U.S. This award was established to recognize the achievements of individuals, groups of individuals or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the progress of the understanding and friendship between the people of the United States and Japan. 

The Society encourages the submission of nominations for exemplary projects, programs and activities in such areas as business, cultural exchange, education, public affairs, and visual and performing arts. The project may be a single event, a series of events, or an on-going project or activity.  It may be in the form of, but is not limited to: artistic performances, educational programs, exchange activities, exhibitions, films, publications, video, visual arts, etc.


Download Application

Application Deadline: Sunday, September 8, 2024

Previous John E. Thayer, III Award Recipients

29 - 2023

Akemi Chayama, Manager, Japan Program Educator at the Boston Children's Museum

28 - 2022
Dr. Sarah Thompson, Curator of Japanese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
JB Line (Japanese Bostonians Support Line), a nonprofit organization that assists Japanese immigrants in the New England area by providing them with consultation, information, direct suppo
rt services, and connection with other social resources.

27 - 2020

Debra Samuels, cookbook author, culinary educator and exhibit curator.
The Japan Festival Boston Committee, which works hard to bring together all communities as one with musical acts, food, and games at the Japan Festival Boston.


26 - 2019

Barry Frechette, Executive Product and Co-Director "Paper Lanterns" and Director of Creative Production, Connelly Partners.

Professor Allan Sosei Palmer, Teacher and Student of Chanoyu.

25 - 2018  
Anne Nishimura Morse, William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art, for her contribution to understanding between Japan and Boston through art and exchange.


24 - 2016
Salem-Ota Cultural Exchange, for their promotion of cross cultural understanding and friendship between the cities of Salem, Massachusetts and Ota, a borough of Tokyo. 

23 - 2015
Kiyoko Morita, for her contributions to US - Japan relations.

22 - 2014
Arlington-Nagaokakyo, in recognition of 30 years as Sister City.

21 - 2013
Rachel Eio, teacher at Brookline High School, for spreading interest in Japanese language and culture to her students.

20 - 2012
Prof. Merry White is one of America’s most distinguished and most popular Japan scholars. Well known both for her academic publications as well as her popular writings, her teaching includes courses on Japanese society, women in Asia, food and culture, and the anthropology of travel and tourism.

19 - 2011
Dr. N. Stuart Harris, Dr. Takashi Shiga, and Dr. Kohei Hasegawa, from Mass. General Hospital, who together rushed from Boston to Kesennuma, Miyagi, on March 14 to help victims of earth quakes and tsunami.

18 - 2010
Prof. Donald Keene, for lifelong achievements.

17 - 2009
Tim Nagaoka, for excellence in teaching Language and Culture to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students in East Boston, Dorchester.

16 - 2008
Tiger Okoshi, jazz trumpeter, for Volunteerism at Higashi School for Autism.

Martha Wright, museum professional, for Public Education about the Arts of Japan.

15 - 2007
Asian Arts & Culture Program at University of Massachusetts and its Program Director, Ranjana Devi, for spreading an awareness, appreciation, and knowledge of the artistic and cultural heritages of Asia and the Middle East. 

14 - 2006
John W. Dower, Ford International Professor of History, MIT, for lifetime achievements.

13 - 2005
Andrew Maske, former curator of Asian Art, Peabody Essex Museum and curator of “Geisha: Beyond the Painted Smile." (announced in 2006)

12 - 2004
Masataka Hata, President of Shoyeido Incense Company.

Makoto Yabe, Ceramic Artist for their lifetime achievements.

11 - 2003
The Center for Global Studies Abroad, Norwalk, CT for the dedicated efforts of the Japan program for more than a decade in fostering language studies and person-to-person exchanges between Norwalk and Japan.

10 - 2002
Charles Doleac, President of Japan-America Society of New Hampshire for promoting the Portsmouth Peace Treaty.

9 - 2001
Patricia Gercik,  Managing Director of MIT Japan Program.

Kathleen Woods Masalski, Program Director for Five College Center for East Asian Studies at Smith College for lifetime achievements in programming U.S.-Japan relations.

8 - 2000
Seiji Ozawa,  Music Director, for lifetime achievements.

7 - 1999
William Thrasher,  Curator, for lifetime achievements. 

6 - 1997
Sataro Narita, Mayor of Shariki Mura, Aomori, Japan, (sister city with Bath, Maine).

Fairhaven/New Bedford-Tosashimizu Sister City Committee, an all volunteer group that has ensured a continued and expanded relationship between two cities through numerous activities and cultural exchanges.

5 - 1996
John Cox,  Director of Community Education for Medford Public Schools, for his involvement in the Japanese School in Medford.

4 - 1995
Nikki Hu, Choreographer and Guy Van Duser,  Musician, for their production of the modern dance “A Thousand Cranes” performed by Boston and Japanese children at Hiroshima Peace Park on the 50th anniversary recognition of the bombing of Hiroshima.

3 - 1994
Dr. John Rosenfield,  Harvard University Abby Rockefeller Professor of East Asian Art Emeritus for lifetime achievements.

2 - 1993
Yori Oda,  Children’s Museum Trustee, for lifetime achievements.

1 - 1992
Leslie Bedford,  former director of the Boston Children’s Museum for the Teen Tokyo exhibit at the Boston Children’s Museum.

Past Winners
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