Japan & Indiana

Interesting Historical Facts

As far as we can tell, the Indiana-Japan relationship began over one hundred years ago through Indiana's educational institutions, with pioneering teachers from Indiana who went to Japan and adventurous Japanese scholars who came to study in Indiana.

  1. Earlham College's first Japanese student graduated with a degree in math in 1893, and Ester Rhoads (Earlham's Class of 1917) was a tutor to the Crown Prince of Japan.
  2. In the early 1900's, a Japanese student who was educated at the Indiana University Law School became the first Japanese ever to be admitted to the U.S. bar.
  3. Mr. Izumi Nasu enrolled at DePauw University in 1877 and graduated in 1881 before his death in 1885.
  4. Today, there are many educational exchanges that are taking place between our universities and Japan, and several of the highest acclaimed university-level Japanese studies programs are found in Indiana.

In the mid-1870's it was a Greencastle native, John Ing, who went to Japan and first introduced apples using western style cultivation techniques. Until then, apples grown in Japan were small, bitter and rarely eaten, and therefore the Japanese had never seen nor tasted large, sweet apples. The Japanese word for apple is RINGO. These apples, introduced by a Hoosier, were to become known in Japan as the "Indo RINGO". Today, the prefecture where John introduced this apple cultivation, Aomori Prefecture, is the largest apple-producing region in Japan. Many Japanese mistakenly think the "Indo Ringo" came from the country of India, but the name is really based on its Indiana connection.

Eli Lilly and Company has one of our oldest business relationships with Japan, spanning over one hundred years of partnership.

Well before World War II, Japanese individuals were immigrating to Indiana through educational exchanges, marriages, and employment opportunities. When we think of the number of sushi restaurants, Asian groceries, Japanese satellite TV, and other resources now to be found in some of the smaller towns in Indiana, we have to appreciate the challenges and struggles these early Japanese must have faced as they assimilated into the Midwest.

Indiana's most famous attraction, the Indy 500, made its mark in Japan, when Indy car racing was established at the Twin-Ring Track in Motegi, Tochigi Prefecture. Danica Patrick won her first IRL race at the Motegi track in 2008.

Tochigi-IndianaThe connections between Indiana and Japan continue to grow: Indiana presently has almost fifteen sister-city relationships with Japan, including a Sister State-Prefecture relationship with the Prefecture of Tochigi. Sister-city relationships are a wonderful way to bring about grassroots cultural exchange between the citizens of Indiana and Japan.

Through Japan's influence and prominent presence in the world community, many students have been attracted to the study of the Japanese language. Presently, over 100 high schools in the State offer Japanese. Indiana ranks 14th in the U.S. in the numbers of students K through 12, not including college, studying Japanese. And, with some of the nation's most prestigious university programs based in Indiana, Indiana is certainly a great place to study Japanese.


2007: Indiana Delegation visited Tochigi, Indiana's sister prefectre