CLEMSON – Toshiko Kishimoto, associate professor emerita of languages, has been awarded a national medal of distinction — the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays Medal — by the Emperor of Japan in a ceremony at the Royal Palace in Tokyo. An honorable certificate signed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also was presented to Kishimoto for her longtime efforts to promote Japanese language and culture, especially in the United States.

Toshiko Kishimoto

Toshiko Kishimoto wears the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays medal. Image credit: Clemson University Relations

“This well-deserved honor is a testament to Professor Kishimoto’s work in furthering Japan-U.S. relations and the thousands of students she has positively influenced over the years,” said Richard Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

Kishimoto joined the Clemson faculty in 1988, establishing the Japanese language program at the University. She was instrumental in developing the Japanese language major, as well as the Japanese track of Clemson’s language and international trade major. Throughout her career, Kishimoto has been recognized for her teaching, for leading Clemson Creative Inquiry groups and for offering Clemson students countless opportunities to immerse themselves in Japanese language and culture, both here and abroad.

She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in law from the School of Law, Rikkyo University in Tokyo.

Toshiko Kishimoto

The Emperor of Japan awarded Toshiko Kishimoto a medal of distinction last fall in a palace ceremony.

Beyond her academic achievements, Kishimoto has also been actively engaged with the Upstate community. In 1989, she established the Greenville Area Japanese Saturday School and served as its principal until 2003. In 2004, she established the Bilingual Forum for Mothers of Bilingual Kids, a group with which she remains involved.

“All of us at Clemson are very appreciative of Kishimoto’s contributions as a teacher and cultural ambassador,” said Clemson University President James P. Clements. In a letter he thanked her for being an amazing representative of Clemson University, the state of South Carolina and the people of Japan.

Of special note, Kishimoto’s husband Yuji Kishimoto was also awarded a Japanese medal of distinction in 2017. Yuji Kishimoto is professor emeritus of architecture at Clemson University.

“It is very rare for both husband and wife to be decorated with national medals in the same year,” Toshiko Kishimoto said. “We felt, therefore, very honored and humbled. I deeply appreciate Clemson University for providing me the opportunity to teach and conduct research regarding Japanese language and culture for 29 years.”