Also, another death, Yoneo Ishii passed away on the 14th Feb.
Ishii was author of a number of works on Thai Buddhism, including Sangha, State, and Society: Thai Buddhism in History, Published by Univ Hawaii Press in 1986.
Here is a email from Prof Keyes
I am truly sad to learn of the passing of the great Sensei/Ajarn, Yoneo Ishii.
Jane, my wife, and I first met Ajarn Ishii in 1962, not long after we had arrived in Thailand. Aj. Ishii was then working at the Japanese embassy. We all were on trip to Kanchanaburi organized by the Siam Society. I heard him speaking in Thai with some others and assumed he was Thai. After my fumbling attempts to converse with him in Thai, he shifted to impeccable English and I learned that he was actually Japanese. At that firsts meeting he told ust he had spent a period as a Buddhist monk and would shortly leave the Japanese diplomatic service to become scholar.
We met next in Japan in 1967 after he had joined the institute for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto. He, together with Dr. Koichi Mizuno whom we had also met when he, like Jane and I, were engaged in ethnographic research in northeastern Thailand, arranged for us to visit Kyoto. I still recall answering the phone in our hotel room shortly after we arrived and hearing Thai spoken -- again, it was Aj. Ishii.
As I began my own scholarly career, I soon realized that Aj. Ishii was a truly exceptional scholar. I am aware that he wrote much in Japanese, but he also published extensively in English and Thai as well. Although he identified himself as an historian -- and his writings in English about Sukhothai, Buddhist history, and Japan-Thai relations are highly influential contributions to the field -- he also contributed to the anthropology and sociology of Thailand. After Aj Mizuno died way too young of cancer, Aj. Ishii oversaw the continuation of Mizuno's research in Ban Don Du, Khon Kaen Province. The volume he edited, Thailand: A Rice-Growing Village, published in English as well as in Japanese, remains a seminal work on understanding the transformation of rural northeastern Thailand.
I personally observed him interact easily with villagers in Ban Don Du and also was present when he held a conversation with Princess Sirindhorn using rajasap, the royal language. I know he was interpreter for the Japanese Emperor many years ago when the King and Queen visited Japan.
Although Aj. Ishii has left behind his moral remains, his karmic legacy will continue to have very positive influences on generations of scholars of Thailand to come. I personally owe him a great debt for providing a model for being a student of Thai culture and history.
Charles Biff Keyes
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and International Studies
Department of Anthropology
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3100