Professor Paul Noguchi spent the last 39 years of his career sharing his passion for the study of humanity with students at Bucknell University. And in return, he enjoyed watching the growing diversity of both culture and geography in the student body.
During his time at Bucknell, Noguchi published two books. Delayed Departures, Overdue Arrivals: Industrial Familialism and the Japanese National Railways was published in 1990 and explored changes that occurred when the Japanese National Railways were privatized and the impact it had on the lives and careers of railway workers in a Tokyo passenger station. "In my restudies of this station, I investigated career uncertainties and the emergence of a new corporate image," Noguchi says.
His book-in-progress, Things Japanese and Things Unexpected, is a collection of essays on how food and other items reflect Japanese culture. He also is the author of many papers and personal essays, such as, "Savor Slowly: Ekiben - The Fast Food of High-Speed Japan" and "Bean-Picking at Seabrook."
Noguchi's courses, always packed with firsthand cultural data, included foundation seminars on demystifying Japan and subjects spanning Japanese film, Japanese corporations, consumption and material culture and urban anthropology. "I can't say I have a favorite, but the consumption course and urban anthropology allowed me the opportunity to teach using my fieldwork experiences," he says.
With such a body of work spanning so many decades, it's difficult to pinpoint career highlights. But Noguchi says, "I think one of the highlights would be the interviews I had with The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times on my research with lost-and-found departments in New York, London and Tokyo. I also had two interviews with 'NPR' and appearances in three documentaries."
In his years at Bucknell Noguchi has been witness to many changes. One of his favorites? The conveniences of technology meant that he no longer had to lug a slide projector and carousel around campus. He also noted that recent classes of students have seemed less prepared in reading background, critical skills and writing abilities in comparison with earlier generations. But have new talents and an undeniable enthusiasm all their own.
As Noguchi exits the classroom - he never missed a day in his 39 years at Bucknell - he sets his sites on big plans for his retirement. "I am working on projects that involve a cross-cultural examination of the meaning of lost objects, an edited volume on consumption and material culture and a look at the etiquette of cell phone use in Japan," he says. When not immersed in his academic projects, he will shift his focus to a few other areas. Noguchi now holds a Class M license and plans to ride his new Honda SH150i scooter as much as possible, at least when he's not breaking in his new fly-fishing gear.
Over the next year, Noguchi plans to spend time with his four grandchildren and relive his glory days as a third baseman by attending the 50th reunion of his New Jersey Group IV state champion varsity baseball team in Bridgeton, N.J.
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