Architecture professor emeritus receives Japanese national medal of distinction

Yuji Kishimoto
Image Credit: Craig Mahaffey / Clemson University

CLEMSON — Clemson University Professor Emeritus Yuji Kishimoto has been awarded a national medal of distinction — the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold 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 his longtime efforts to promote academic, cultural and economic relations between the United States and Japan.

“I am thrilled that Yuji has been recognized for his lifetime of service and his incredible work to forge closer ties between the United States and Japan,” said Clemson President James P. Clements. “Yuji also has represented Clemson in a world-class manner for well over 30 years as a faculty member, adviser and ambassador of the university and the state of South Carolina, and I am honored to call him a colleague and a friend.”

“I am very humbled by this news and honored to share it with and represent Clemson University,” Kishimoto said. “Helping to establish the Japan America Association of South Carolina and my position as special assistant to the president of Clemson University supported these activities and created the environment in which I have been able to achieve the level and the quality for these recognitions by the Japanese government.”

The Japan America Association of South Carolina was established in 1989 to create an environment for the business collaboration between the U.S. and Japan and to start a Japanese Saturday school for the children of Japanese industries in the Upstate area. Kishimoto served two terms as the association’s first president.

“Yuji Kishimoto’s work to build community within Clemson and with our international partners has made a big difference in the lives of many Clemson faculty, staff and students,” said Robert H. Jones, Clemson’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “This award is a well-deserved recognition of years of excellent work.”

Kishimoto taught architecture studio at Clemson from 1980 until his retirement in 2011. He served for several years as special assistant to the president of Clemson for U.S.-Japan relations and continues to assist area groups with outreach efforts with Japan. In this role, Kishimoto has served as an ambassador, strengthening and developing new avenues to connect the Clemson community and the Japanese people.

Professors Emeriti Toshiko and Yuji Kishimoto with Dean Richard Goodstein.
Image Credit: Craig Mahaffey / Clemson University

“Yuji Kishimoto is a builder of bridges between people and between countries,” said Richard Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. “Throughout his career at Clemson, Professor Kishimoto’s passion for academic and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Japan opened doors of understanding and opportunity for countless Clemson students.”

Much of Kishimoto’s international activity has centered on academic and cultural exchanges and economic development. For more than two decades, he directed the Southeast U.S.-Japan Architectural Exchange, which brought leading architects from Japan to lecture in the Southeast and placed architecture students in internships in Japan. He also directed numerous exchange programs with Japanese companies and institutions of higher education, including Fuji-Photo Film, Toyota Technological Institute, Waseda University in Tokyo and the University of Tokyo. Kishimoto also was instrumental in developing the Clemson University-FUJIFILM Endowment, which provides support for students to participate in exchange programs in Japan.

In addition to academic exchanges, Kishimoto has served in numerous capacities to foster and facilitate academic and artistic exchange and collaboration between the two countries as well as economic development initiatives. For 20 years, he served as the executive director of the U.S.-Japan Alliance with Clemson University and in 1989 was awarded the S.C. Ambassador for Economic Development by S.C. Gov. Carroll Campbell.

Kishimoto is, by any standard, a Renaissance man. Not only does his resume illuminate successful careers as an architect, educator and international ambassador, but his oil paintings have been displayed and collected in various galleries throughout the U.S. and in Japan. He is an accomplished classical guitarist, who has infused his life and work with music. And he has run 24 marathons, including the Boston Marathon five times.

Kate Schwennsen, director of Clemson’s School of Architecture, said, “We thank Yuji Kishimoto for modeling what it means to be a global citizen architect for our students and faculty.”

Kishimoto’s academic degrees include a Master of Education from the University of Massachusetts, a Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Architecture from Wadesa University. He is a native of Tokyo, Japan, and is married to Toshiko Kishimoto, Clemson professor emeritus of Japanese. The Kishimotos have a daughter, Kyo, who also is an architect and is married to architect and Clemson graduate David Brown.