The National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU) is a corporation of research institutes in Japan, which makes large-scale facilities and repositories of information available to the involved institutions. It is made up of six research institutes in the humanities that are devoted to such fields as linguistics, literary studies, anthropology, history, area studies, cultural geography, and research on the natural environment. Their reputation is similar to that of the Max Planck Institutes in Germany or state institutions with strong research departments.
The NIHU Prize is one of the few Japanese prizes for non-Japanese researchers in the field of Japanese studies. It is awarded to scholars for outstanding achievements in the fields of Japanese literature, language, history, anthropology, culture and the natural environment. Potential candidates are selected in a competitive nomination process among the participating institutions. The NIHU Prize is being awarded for the fourth time in 2014. The previous recipients were Ronald P. Toby from the University of Illinois (USA), Augustin Berque from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (France), and Lin Wen-yueh, emerita of the National Taiwan University.
Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit is a professor of Japanese studies and the director of the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. She is also a winner of the Leibniz Prize, the highest endowed award in Germany, and in 1995 was awarded a German Federal Cross of Merit for her many achievements as a mediator of Japanese culture.