Ben-Ami Shillony is Professor Emeritus of Japanese history and culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and honorary president of the Israeli Association of Japanese Studies. He was born in Poland in 1937 and immigrated to Israel in 1948. After receiving his Master degree in history from the Hebrew University in 1965, he studied for two years Japanese language at the International Christian University in Tokyo, and then went to Princeton University in the United States, where he studied Japanese history under Professor Marius B. Jansen. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the February 1936 military revolt in Japan. After receiving his Ph.D. degree from Princeton in 1971, he returned to Israel and since then taught Japanese history and culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem until his retirement in 2006. For several years his class "Introduction to Japanese History and Culture" was the largest class at the Hebrew University. He also taught, lectured and did research at the universities of Harvard, Berkeley, Tokyo, Oxford, Cambridge, and Colorado. He was the academic director of the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace from 1987 to 1990.
He was twice awarded the Michael Milken Prize for Excellence in Teaching (1996, 2005). In November 2000 the Japanese emperor bestowed on him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star (Kun-nitō Zuihōshō 勲二等瑞宝章). In 2007 an international conference was held in honor of his retirement. In October 2010 he was awarded the Japan Foundation Award for that year (the first Israeli to receive it) and was granted an audience with the emperor and empress of Japan.
He has published in Hebrew, English and Japanese. His books in Hebrew on Japanese history and culture are the standard textbooks on Japan in Israel. His main books are:
1. Revolt in Japan (Princeton University Press, 1973. Translated into Japanese: Nihon no hanran, Kawade Shobō Shinsha, 1975).
2. Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan (Clarendon Press, 1981. Paperback edition Oxford University Press, 1991. Translated into Japanese: Uotaimu japan, Gogatsu Shobō, 1991).
3. Yapan hamesoratit: tarbut ve-historia [Traditional Japan: Culture and History] (Schocken Publishing House, 1995. Revised and expanded edition, 2001).
4. Yapan hamodernit: tarbut ve-historia [Modern Japan: Culture and History] (Schocken Publishing House, 1997. Revised and expanded edition, 2002).
5. The Jews and the Japanese, (Charles E. Tuttle, 1992. Translated into Japanese: Yudayajin to nihonjin no fushigina kankei, Seikō Shobō, 2004).
6. Collected Writings of Ben-Ami Shillony (Japan Library, Curzon Press, 2000).
7. Enigma of the Emperors: Sacred Subservience in Japanese History (Global Oriental, 2005. Translted into Japanese: Haha naru tennō , Kōdansha, 2003).
8. ed., The Emperors of Modern Japan (Brill, 2008).
9. Yapan bemabat ishi [Japan as I see It] ((Tel Aviv: Schocken Publishing House, 2011).