• Kyodo


Donald Howard Shively, one of the founding fathers of the study of Japanese popular culture in the United States, has died from complications of Shy-Drager syndrome.

Shively died Aug. 13 at a nursing facility in Berkley, Calif., at age 84.

A professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkley, Shively was a leading authority on Japanese urban life and popular culture during the Edo Period.

He was born in Kyoto on May 11, 1921, to American missionaries. He studied at the Canadian Academy in Kobe and received a master’s degree at Harvard University in 1947 and a doctorate there in 1951.

During World War II, Shively served as a Japanese-language officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and earned a Bronze Star.

Shively started his work on kabuki with a groundbreaking translation and study of “The Love Suicide at Amijima,” a popular tragic play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon.

He was decorated by Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun in 1982.

From 1983 to his retirement in 1991, Shively was a professor of East Asian languages and cultures and head of the East Asian Library at the UC Berkley.

His wife, Mary Elizabeth Berry, a professor of Japanese history also at the university, remembers him as a “brilliant tennis player, and an even more brilliant, if merciless, punster who loved women, his children, his students, old jazz, hikes in the Sierras, banana plants, Japanese pots and Kyoto noodles.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.