Noboru Inamoto (“Noby”) was born in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, in 1918 of immigrant parents from Shiga Prefecture, Japan. He was sent to Japan to attend high school, where, as the only Nisei, he had difficulty learning the language. He later entered and finished university at Kwansei Gakuin in Kobe, studying sociology. Shortly before Pearl Harbor, he returned to Canada, then entered the University of Washington and was incarcerated in Puyallup and later the Minnedoka Relocation Center in Idaho during WWII. He was eventually ordered to the University of Minnesota where he worked in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) training future linguists who would serve in Japan after the war.
He took another bachelor’s degree in political science, went to Columbia University for M.A. and Ph.D. work in political science, then entered teaching at USC in 1953, where he remained until he retired in 1986.
During the 1960s and early ’70s, he and his wife, Barbara, conducted a dozen annual educational tours to Japan for one-month people-to-people experiences. Later he reversed that program and brought students from Japan to USC for intercultural conferences.
His love of travel took him back and forth to Japan during his years of teaching. As Resident Director of California Private Universities and Colleges (CALPUC) Year Abroad Program at Waseda University in Tokyo, he twice spent a year there and traveled widely in Southeast Asia. After retiring from USC, he visited Europe frequently as well as Canada and Mexico.
He had a penchant for sharing his knowledge of Japan and the Japanese language through his publications. Colloquial Japanese, a grammar book, was published by Charles E. Tuttle Co. in 1972. Japanese Primer, a writing text (USC Press) followed in 1974. In 1982, he published a book in Japanese, Nihonjin tai Amerikajin, a shorter version of which appeared also in English under the title The Japanese and the Americans: Two Different Attitudes toward Life. Thereafter, his books surveying American education were written in Japanese. In 1994 he published Mitsu no Sokuku (My Three Homelands), signifying his roots in Japan, his birthplace in Canada, and his citizenship in the United States. He passed away on July 30, 1996.