TUNCELİ - Anatolia News Agency
Turkish and Japanese people share many cultural similarities, according to Hiroki Wakamatsu, 35, from Tunceli University’s Department of Sociology. AA photo
A Japanese academic, who has been working in Turkey’s eastern province of Tunceli since 2009, has converted to the Alevi
strand of Islam, which is also his academic research area.
Hiroki Wakamatsu, 35, from Tunceli University’s Department of Sociology, has spent many years studying Alevism, which is seen as a liberal strain within Islam. His studies focus on religious minorities, secularism, social change among Alevis in Turkey, Kurdish Alevi
groups, and Turkish Muslims in Japan.
“While I was trying to find a research subject a teacher of mine suggested that I study Alevi
groups in Turkey. Let’s call it destiny or ‘kismet,’ I had the chance to come to Tunceli, which is like a living laboratory for an anthropologist who studies Alevism,” Wakamatsu told Anatolia news agency.
According to him, Turkish and Japanese people share many cultural similarities.
Wakamatsu’s students expressed their admiration for him. “He is a professor who dedicates his life to his students, a perfect scientist,” said 22-year-old Sevgi Aker.
“My life has changed totally after getting to know him, he is so good in his field. Taking classes from a Japanese teacher is amazing,” said 22-year-old Mehmet Karanfil.
Wakamatsu is the vice director of the university’s Alevism Practice and Research Center, and he also teaches anthropology and “Far East Religions.”
He graduated from Tokai University’s Civilization Sciences Department in 1997 and completed his master’s studies at Sophia University in Japan. He was then accepted by Tunceli University to become an associate professor.
Wakamatsu is married to Turkish professor Nursen Wakamatsu, who graduated from the Japanese language and culture department, and they have one child named Deniz Tomoki Wakamatsu.
Along with Japanese, Wakamatsu speaks Turkish, French, Arabic and English.