Colorado State University Professor Emeritus Receives Top Japanese Emperor Award

Note to Editors: A downloadable picture of John Matsushima is available with the news release at

A retired Colorado State University professor has received the prestigious Japan Emperor award in Tokyo in the Crown Room at the Imperial Palace. John Matsushima received a gold plated medallion and a plaque with the signature and seal of the Emperor during an event on March 18.

Matsushima, professor emeritus in animal sciences, is the first Japanese-American to win the Japan Emperor award and was one of four recipients of the award last month. Others included leaders from South Korea, China and Japan. Matsushima, 88, received the highest level of Emperor Award, the Emperor Citation, which is presented periodically to dignitaries such as Prime Ministers and Presidents/CEOs of large corporations.

Matsushima was cited for his accomplishments in establishing U.S. beef exports to Japan in the early 1980s, for pioneering the steam processing technique for feed grains for cattle feed that has helped reduce the cost of beef production, and for being recognized worldwide as an animal scientist and educator who has taught nearly 10,000 students at three universities. Matsushima also taught at the University of Nebraska and University of Minnesota.  

"I never dreamed that I would receive such an award," said Matsushima. "My parents taught us early in life that with our Japanese heritage we should remember three words: patience, endurance or perseverance, and hardship. I have always remembered these three words."

Born in Denver and raised in Lafayette, Matsushima earned a bachelor’s in animal science and a master’s in animal nutrition at Colorado State and a doctorate in animal science and biochemistry from the University of Minnesota. He returned to Fort Collins to teach and conduct research in 1961 and retired in 1992. Matsushima is the author of hundreds of professional and popular publications and several books including "A Journey Back: The History of Cattle Feeding in Colorado and the United States", and "A Century of Progress – History of the Animal Sciences Department" at CSU.     

Matsushima said attending the awards ceremony at the Imperial Palace was an "once-in-a-lifetime event." Matsushima said he had been near the Imperial Palace before, but had never been invited inside the private residence of Japan’s emperor. Matsushima added that the trip was "very exciting" for him and his wife, Dorothy.

During his academic career, Matsushima has received numerous awards including: National and Colorado 4-H Club awards; Distinguished Colorado State University Alumni award; Colorado State University Livestock Leader award; National Association of Meat Purveyors Outstanding Educator Award of America; Colorado State University Best Teacher Award; American Society of Animal Science Fellow; and the Top Choice Award from the Colorado Cattle Feeders Association.