The Reconnaissance Japan Program

RJ Courses Offered in 2018

This list is tentative and subject to change. If it is essential for you to take a specific course, please contact the Office of International Programs (E-mail: intl@obirin.ac.jp) to make sure that it will be offered. For prerequisites/eligibility requirements, please refer to the individual course descriptions.

The list of RJ courses offered in 2018

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Modern Japanese Culture [fall]

Culture is nowadays considered an important tool not only for enriching society but also for building good relationships with foreign countries. |This course examines Japanese international cultural policy, programs and activities, at present and in the past. We also look into various historical aspects of Japanese culture and society in connection with cultural contacts with outside world. Students are encouraged to contribute to the class by providing comparative points of view.

Great Works of Japanese Literature [fall]

This once-a-week. back-to-back course is designed for you to explore and understand Japanese folklore that is well-known to the Japanese, but that is so ordinary that people do not talk about it; hence, students of Japanese language and culture cannot easily understand it. Through lectures, DVDs, fieldwork, and other hands-on experiences, you will be able to know Japanese folklore that you should know in order to deepen your knowledge on Japanese language and culture.  

Japanese Art (History) [fall]

This is a survey of Japanese art history. The objective of the course is to have the student acquire knowledge of the foreign influences, trends, major works, special characteristics of Japanese art, and the effect of religious, historical, and social aspects on art. The course covers the early Neolithic (Jomon) to the Edo period. The emphasis is on sculpture and painting, but applied arts such as ceramics and lacquer ware are shown where necessary. The main types of art shown in the respective periods are: mostly pottery for the prehistorical periods of Jomon and Yayoi; haniwa figurines, metalware etc. for the Tumulus period; Buddhist sculpture etc. for the Asuka and Hakuho periods; Buddhist sculpture, crafts in the Shosoin Repository etc. for the Tempyo period; Esoteric Buddhist sculpture and painting etc. for the Early Heian period; Buddhist art, narrative picture scrolls, ornamented sutra transcriptions etc. for the Late Heian period; Buddhist art, narrative picture scrolls etc. for the Kamakura period; Zen temple gardens, ink painting etc. for the Nambokucho and Muromachi periods; art related to the tea ceremony, popular themes in painting (Namban painting etc.) and various schools of painting (Kano school, Rimpa etc.) for the Momoyama period; and various schools of painting (schools continuing from the Momoyama period as well as new schools such as Nanga, Maruyama school, ukiyoe etc.) for the Edo period. Lectures are conducted in English accompanied by slides.

Japanese Art (Japanese Theater) [fall]

Japanese theater has a lot of examples in its long history. This course serves as an introduction to the history, social background, narrative and structural aspects of theatrical art in Japan. It will help students who have no background knowledge of the subject matter, to see the film of stage performance from a variety of different positions, and provide the student with several opportunities to go to the theater in Tokyo to see the live performances and its surrounding culture from which deeper understanding of performing arts might be built.

Japanese History (U.S.-J. Exchanges) [fall]

The US-Japan relationship is one of the closest and strongest bilateral relationships in the world. The total GDP of these two nations accounts for 30% of the global GDP. The importance of this relationship is significant not only for the United States and Japan, but also for the rest of the world. However, the US-Japan relationship has not been without major conflicts, problems, and serious misunderstandings throughout history. The two nations greatly differ in their history and traditional cultures, although there are many affinities in their social values as well. Just like two individuals with different backgrounds who sometimes struggle in maintaining a good relationship, the two countries have needed to work hard as their expectations for each other change over time. Furthermore, how equal or unequal this partnership is in realty has often been questioned. This course will examine multiple dimensions of the exchanges between the United States and Japan from historical, military, political, and economic perspectives, as well as those on the individual level. Key figures and individuals who contributed to the different aspects of US-Japan exchanges will be introduced, and the present situation, challenges, and the future directions the two countries might share will also be explored. |This course is a must for all American and Japanese students interested in the US and Japan, AND all international students who want to understand the key to the question of why the Japanese society is the way it is today, because the US influence on Japan in modern history has been enormous.

Modern Japanese History [fall]

This course will survey the process of and background to the basic events in Japanese history from the 19th to late 20th centuries through lectures and reading primary sources in English translation, showing woodblock prints and photos. The course examines the important changes in politics, diplomacy, |society, culture, religion, arts, thoughts and gender in relation to the domestic and global contexts. |Students will be required to pose their own questions about modern Japanese history to discuss them in their final reports.

Japanese Thought and Religion [fall]

This course introduces Shinto, Buddhism, and Christianity as practiced in Japan. It emphasizes the ritual, philosophical, experiential, anthropological, cultural, and ethical aspects of the three major religious traditions and their interaction over time. Outside speakers including priests and monks will enhance students’ learning experience. In addition, field trips to Japanese places of worship where students are introduced to ritual and meditation are envisioned. The class will include readings, lectures, discussions, and papers that emphasize the comparative aspects of faith and the religious experience.

Finance and Economy [fall]

The purpose of this course is to have an understanding of the major aspects of the economy of Japan. It will provide a comprehensive coverage of key topics such as the Japanese economic policy-making, the economic fluctuations, the industrial policy structure, the behavior of Japanese firms, the financial institutions, the labor market and the income distribution among others. All the different phases of the contemporary Japan’s economic development will be covered. There will be considerable class discussions on the recent changes in the economy such as the consequences of the “Four arrows” of the Abenomics, the preparation of the Olympics in Tokyo for 2020, the demographic challenges with a shrinking population, and as well the new landscape of the global economy and its impact on the Japan’s economy.

International Politics (Jpn. Politics) [fall]

Japan is one of the most important countries in the world. The third largest economic power and most established democracy in the Asian region; Japan is an important ally of the United States. Yet, its political system and its decision-making process are among the most poorly understood in the world. To many outside observers, the lengthy proceedings of the Diet, the sequence of ever-changing Prime Ministers, and odd policy outputs are just too mysterious to be explained in simple sentences. |This course is designed to give students a general understanding of the main features of contemporary Japanese politics. In reaching this goal, the class begins by briefly reviewing Japanese history prior to the Second World War emphasizing Japanese political culture and its development. Only by understanding Japan’s past, can students truly understand and appreciate Japan’s current political culture. Special attention will be paid to the demise of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the period of national planning and constitution-making of the Meiji period. In examining these eras, attention will be paid to traditional cultural practices and how Japan’s political leaders sought to accommodate them while economically, military, and politically “modernizing.”||In the post WWII era, Japan’s historical path offers a string of deep puzzles. How could a country so thoroughly destroyed by the United States in the Second World War form with its former enemy the most enduring alliance of the modern world? How could the country engineer the most amazing economic miracle for three decades and suddenly be unable to reform itself in the face of a decade-long crisis? How could Japanese voters keep the same ruling party (i.e., LDP) in power even in the face of 15 years of deep crisis? How could a country known for the passivity of its civil society suddenly witness the blooming of NGOs in the fields of environmental and women’s rights? ||While the focus of this course is Japan, an important theme will be international comparison. Taking into consideration the diverse student body (i.e., foreign students), an important element of class discussions will be comparing Japan’s political systems with those of the students’ home state. Class discussions will address issues such as “How is Japan different from other industrial counties? Or conversely “How is Japan similar?” 

The Japanese and International Society [fall]

JAPANESE SOCIETY In the summer of 2015, which marked the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, security-related bills were passed in the Japanese Diet amid huge protests -- a significant departure from Japan's pacifist posture in the postwar era.  In May of the following year, Barack Obama landed in Hiroshima, becoming the first incumbent U.S. President to visit the city since August 1945. A historic event in the eyes of many Japanese, the entire process of Obama's visit was broadcast live, nationwide, on NHK.  ||Even after more than seven decades, Japan has been living the 'postwar' period, which characterized various aspects of its culture, society and politics.  Is it going to change from this point on and, if so, how? Throughout the semester, we will explore the diversity and complexity of Japanese society and examine current issues/problems and their historical roots.  We will also review the recent changes and developments in Japanese society, including the repercussions of the 3/11 triple disaster in 2011. Be sure to keep up-to-date on what is happening in Japan and in the world.

Global Society and Gender [fall]

Do you want to learn and better understand people who constitute half of the population in Japan? Yes, they are Japanese women. To look at Japan from the women’s standpoint gives you deeper understandings of Japanese history, family, marriage, and human relationships. |Japanese women are found to be one of the major topics of interest among the observers and scholars of Japan around the world. Do you know that ancient Japan was probably one of the most gender equal societies in the world? But today, the status of Japanese women, especially in the occupational world, is considerably behind compared with other developed countries and some Asian countries. What happened to the Japanese women and is happening to them now? And how are Japanese women portrayed in the media both domestic and overseas? This course will examine the changing positions of women in Japanese society from ancient times to the present, and analyze the social and cultural factors influencing the life of today’s Japanese women, as well as critical issues and challenges they are facing in 21st century Japan (e.g. the declining birthrate). Furthermore, movies which describe Japanese women in different ways will be shown for discussion (and enjoyment, of course.).| The course will be divided primarily into three parts: (1) Examination of women’s role and status in Japan throughout its history, (2) Contemporary Japanese women’s social environment and issues they face in various areas of their life, including socialization, marriage & family, and work, and (3) student’s independent research project on Japanese women. (Any aspect/topic of women in Japan which students take interest in will be developed into a research paper with a close consultation with the instructor.) The class is inherently comparative: students are encouraged to be reflective of the women’s situations in their own countries. |

Comparative Society [fall]

This course will introduce students to the Japanese experience of modernity expressed in personal narratives. These narratives, i.e. memoirs, autobiographies, letters, diaries, personal essays and interviews, provide unique ways of understanding modern Japan. As stories they are a powerful medium bringing together the historical, political, social, cultural, philosophical and personal aspects of history in a complex, but easily accessible, manner. The readings will focus on Japan’s drastic change from a traditional society into a highly industrialized and postmodern nation through themes such as sociopolitical transformation, urbanization, cultural borrowing and preservation, gendered experiences, social inclusion and marginalization and pursuit of change.

Global Society (Children in Japan) [fall]

This class is to learn about sociology of children in Japan. This course is on learning about children's society of Japan. Traditional child-rearing in Japan and quickly shifting to modern parenting and children's living environment too much to change. Changes in environment and culture are giving effect to the child or from a historical perspective, explore the problems of children society of modern Japan.

Japanese Culture [Spring]

What is culture? What is Japanese culture? Is there anything uniquely Japanese? How can we study, analyze, and understand Japanese culture and the people? This course aims first to enable students to learn the basic perspectives and methodologies of Culture Studies in social science, and then to apply them to the understanding of contemporary Japanese cultural scenes. How do foreigners as well as the Japanese themselves view Japanese people and culture? How valid are so called Nihonjinron literatures? What kinds of subcultures coexist in Japan, and how are the Japanese values and beliefs manifested in them? How are traditional cultures maintained and appreciated in contemporary Japan and how are they changing? The course aims to investigate these questions and more, and explore various dimensions of Japanese culture, as Japan, like any culture in the world, is not completely monolithic or homogeneous. Students’ willingness to participate in discussions and to conduct their own research is essential.

Comparative Culture (U.S.-Japan) [Spring]

This course is designed to provide students with a general understanding of society, culture, and ethnic diversity in contemporary Japan by way of contrast with the United States. The course begins with an overview of the natural environment, geography, history, and other general aspects of Japan. Then we will examine cultural and ethnic diversity in Japan and the United States, including issues such as language, minority rights, and immigration policies. Students will also learn about contemporary issues shared by both countries. By taking a comparative approach, this course will help students achieve a better understanding of contemporary Japan in order to facilitate better communication with people of different backgrounds.

Survey of Japanese Literature [Spring]

This course will be an introduction to the major works of Japan’s pre-modern literature.|All the course materials and lectures will be provided in English and students need to write academic research papers in English. Recommended for students who are fluent enough in English.|It covers the history of Japanese Literature from the earliest times up to 1868. We will read translated texts of original Japanese classics in various genres and styles, drawn from major genres of poetry, theater and fiction, and from representative works from different time period. We will analyze these works in relation to the social and cultural history of Japan. This course will also frame development of Japanese aesthetics.|On Friday, June 16, we will have excursion to National Theater to see traditional puppet theater. In that occasion, students need to meet expense for travel (about 2000yen for travel). The performance starts at 6:30pm.|The class material will be provided through OBIRIN e-Learning (Moodle). Students need to download reading materials and to submit homework assignment and papers thorough it.

Studies in Comparative Literature [Spring]

Japan has produced numerous outstanding women writers in history, from Heian to the present. This course will give students an opportunity to enjoy the pleasure Japanese women’s literature offers, and learn about Japan from a gendered perspective. The readings will include different genres from different time frames. The course will give a clear idea of the contributions of Japanese women writers and their responses to the culture and society in which they live. Each of the readings will be discussed in context of the larger social, cultural and historical significance.

Japanese Cinematic Art [Spring]

Cinema offers dynamic ways to learn about a particular country’s history, society and culture. By watching crucial films by influential Japanese filmmakers, this course will provide students a unique way of experiencing Japan. Through exploring artistic, cultural, and political implications in these films, students will learn how Japanese filmmakers explore themes and cultural landscapes pertinent to modern Japan. Students will learn to read visual images in context of larger issues of social, cultural or historical significance.

Japanese Theatrical Art [Spring]

In this class, Japanese traditional culture is studied through Kabuki dance and Shamisen music. Kabuki is one of the representative traditional theater forms and Shamisen is representative musical instrument of Japan. The course will consist not just of lectures but also actual participation and practice as wearing Kimono, playing Shamisen, dancing Kabuki exercise.  

Japanese History (Premodern History) [Spring]

This course is an introduction to Premodern Japanese history. The course will follow a chronological approach, focusing on topics which are critical for the understanding of Premodern Japan. Students are required to deliver presentations twice.

Compar. Human. (Fieldwork in Japan) [Spring]

"Doing Fieldwork in Japan" is an interactive, hands-on course that allows you to investigate the local community and to learn how to work with various people in an academic setting. Students who wish to take the course should be willing to communicate with those from different social, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. ||Japanese students and international students are paired up (or teamed up, depending on the number of enrollment) to collaborate on fieldwork projects. There will be field trips and lectures, through which you will obtain information and knowledge about the local community, history, culture and environment; through fieldwork projects, you will have an opportunity to explore the subject of your interest and ‘experience’ Japanese society and culture on your own.||NOTE: As described above, in addition to participating in class meetings on campus, you will also perform fieldwork in the community. Register for the course only if you are committed to working responsibly with those from various backgrounds (e.g., community members and students from other cultures). インタラクティブな実践活動中心の授業です。地域コミュニティを調査すると共に、様々な人々との共同作業の大切さを学びます。この講座を履修するには、異なる社会・文化・言語環境出身の人々とコミュニケーションを取る意欲が必要です。留学生と日本人学生はペア(あるいはチーム)を組み、フィールドワーク・プロジェクトに取り組みます。フィールド・トリップや講義を通してコミュニティの歴史や文化、環境についての情報や知識を得、フィー ルドワークを通じて、自分たちが特に関心を持ったことをより深く調べることになります。注意:上記の通り、教室での講義に加えて、地域コミュニティでのフィールドワークを行う必要があります。 自分とは異なるバックグラウンドを持つ人々(地域の人々や留学生)と協力して、責任感を持って学習活動を行わなければなりません。そのことを充分に理解して、履修を決めてください。

Intercultural Communication [Spring]

In this global era, we face the ever-increasing transnational flows of people, products, ideas, and practices; living across/between multiple cultures is becoming the norm for many of us. It is imperative, therefore, that we recognize our own cultural complexity as well as the need to function effectively in culturally diverse contexts. This course focuses on the role of culture in our everyday lives while cultivating intercultural awareness and communication skills. || 'Japanese culture' will be a stimulating backdrop to our academic pursuits, but students will be exposed to other diverse cultures as well.

Japanese Management [Spring]

This course will cover the evolution of the Japanese management and the current changes. Students will be able to have as well a deeper understanding of the cultural aspects of Japanese management. In addition of reviews of the main characteristics of the Japanese management, concrete case studies of Japanese companies will be presented. |

Modern Industry and Corporations [Spring]

This course focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of business activities. It provides a framework to assist in more informed decision-making by individuals in their role of producers or consumers. An understanding of modern structure of industry and business in this course prepares students to become productive members of society. The course provides opportunities for students to develop entrepreneurial and managerial skills necessary to survive and prosper in a local, regional and global dynamic business environment. As the method of case study is to be conducted, this course engages students in performing case analysis which helps to improve their communication and critical thinking skills and creates an awareness of business ethics and social and economic responsibilities. Furthermore, this course not only provides a good foundation for further study of business courses at pre-professional and professional levels, but assists students in the development of the requisite skills, competencies, attitudes and values that are critical for success in today’s business environment.

Int'l Relations (East Asia) [Spring]

The East Asian region has been one of the most dynamic areas of economic and political development in the world. This course is designed to give students a general survey and understanding of the main features of a range of contemporary geographical issues affecting the East Asian region, both within and between the countries in this area. Its primary goals are to encourage students to link and apply a range of political, geographical and theoretical positions to a series of regional case studies.||The class surveys the interrelationships operating in the region and national geopolitical issues of China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan. After laying a foundation of essential geographical, historical, and social elements, the class addresses political geography issues within the region and trans-regional problems. Students should leave this course with a solid grounding in political geography factors operating within the East Asian region.||Reading assignments written by leading scholars of the East Asian region and course lectures are designed to provide students a greater insight and understanding of the political geography of East Asia paying close attention to the evolution of the relationships between Japan and China, between Korea and Japan, and between China and Korea. Each class will be divided into two parts. The first portion of the class is a lecture provided by the instructor. This will be followed by a discussion of weekly readings, geopolitical theories, student presentations, documentary videos, (e.g., Showa museum and Kamakura), and others (lectures by guest speakers and a data base lecture by LexisNexis). Weekly reading assignments will be assigned at the end of each class.

Int'l Relations (Japan & China) [Spring]

Sino-Japanese relations have radically changed during modern times and are now at their worst since diplomatic normalization in 1972. This class will provide a detailed introduction to the various issues influencing Sino-Japanese relations, including, but not limited to, differing historical perceptions, the textbook controversy, visits by Japanese politicians to Yasukuni Shrine, and questions relating to war reparations, Japanese ODA to China, comfort woman, and Taiwanese independence. While the course will focus on current issues, historical background going back to the 19th century will be discussed as necessary. ||Since recent exploration of Sino-Japanese territorial issue in the East China Sea, discussion has escalated from not only sovereignty of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, but also to the question of possession of the Ryukyu Islands after WWII. Therefore, by analyzing both pro-China and pro-Japan irredentist arguments based on historical evidence and international law, the class will also discuss the border issue between China and Japan in the East China Sea. This will be followed by a discussion of weekly readings, theories of Sino-Japanese relations, student presentations, documentary videos, (e.g., Showa museum and Kamakura ect.), and others (lectures by guest speakers and a data base lecture by LexisNexis). Weekly reading assignments will be assigned at the end of each class.


Global Studies (GS) courses in English for 2018 Academic Year

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Compar. Human. (Global Connections) [fall]

Humanities, broadly speaking, is the study of all or any of the artistic, literary, musical, political, historical and social activities that define us as human. However, as Humans we have spread across the globe and settled into various geographical areas and groups, which has resulted in the development of different languages and societies and given rise to great variation of human experience and living. Within these different variations we have formed different sensibilities and values on what it is to be human, and in what way we can express this. In this course, we will study how storytelling has been central to all societies, and will investigate its role in the formation and maintenance of culture and identity.||This course, called comparative humanities, will first look at definitions of humanity and civilization, and at what is common to us all, and will very briefly compare the history and development of both western and eastern civilizations, through literature and a consideration of culture. We will then focus on three specific areas; New Zealand; Japan; and North America, looking at the histories, responses to location and to the art and literature of the peoples who live there, as expressed in their storytelling. For this section, we will deep read several works of literature from these cultures for comparison and comment. Students will be asked to look critically at what it is to be human in our modern world in order to help them think about, and understand the diversity of humanity we encounter globally.

Studies in British & American Culture [fall]

AMERICAN CULTURE THROUGH FILM||This is a course designed to help students learn about the language, culture, society, and people of the United States by examining various films. ||A film -- also called a movie or a motion picture -- is a cultural production. It is an art form, a medium, as well as a text that is creatively read, interpreted, and assigned meaning by each person. During the semester, we will be watching six films. They will be examined in the larger context of the United States in order to learn about American values, aesthetics, sensibilities, and social issues. When appropriate, certain English phrases and expressions from the film or the issues surrounding translation/interpretation will be pointed out and elaborated on.| |While being a great resource to learn about the culture that produced it, film is also a powerful tool that enables us to relate to those who we think are 'different' from us. In this course, we utilize film not to seek differences and create the Other but to understand the human diversity and share the common humanity. ||The basic rhythm of the course is as follows: (1) Viewing of the film; (2) Lecture by the instructor; (3) Team research; (4) Team presentation followed by class discussion. We will repeat the above process for each film -- i.e., six times during the semester. The knowledge and insights gained through the process above should culminate in each student's final research presentation and paper.

Int'l Relations (Theory/Case Studies) [fall]

This course is a basic introduction to international relations, including the history of the international community, an introduction to and consideration of various theories, the organization of the state, diplomatic apparatus, the United Nations, nationalism and so on. Contemporary issues will also be addressed alongside classic descriptions of world affairs.

Comparative Education [fall]

Comparative education is the comparative study of educational practices and situations in various countries. This course provide opportunities to understanding of educational issues, trends and policies through comparative, cross-cultural and international perspectives. Education is one of the fundamental factors to shape, preserve and develop own society and culture in the world therefore learning education and educational system lead mutual understanding in these countries. Comparative study helps to analyze these educational practices and to find differences deeply. This research method is applied by variety of international organization (e.g. OECD) in this globalized society. The goal of this course is to introduce students to expand their perspectives through studying educational practices around the world.

Global Society (Rhetoric & Society) [fall]

Rhetoric and Global Society||In this course, we will work on the three themes: communication, innovation, and leadership. First, we will study Rhetoric. Rhetoric is the study of persuasive discourse. We will learn the basic concepts and theories of Rhetoric. We will survey the roles and effects of rhetorical communication in the global society. Secondly, we will explore the study of innovative thinking. We will analyze how to innovate new ideas or solutions when we face difficult problems. Innovation is not just an invention but it is often way of thinking to generate new ideas and good solutions. Thus, logical thinking or critical thinking is part of innovative thinking. Finally, we will discuss the elements of global leadership. Any leadership requires convincing communications, moral attitudes, distinct character, or positive behaviors. In the context of global society, we will find out the most important elements of leadership.

Comparative Culture (Commonwealth) [Spring]

This course takes an in-depth look at the Commonwealth of Nations (CON), investigating the common cultural aspects that form the bonds between its many, yet often very diverse, nation members. After studying the background and formation of the Commonwealth, which takes in a brief look at the rise and decline of the British empire, we will investigate some of the symbolic aspects that identify the CON, such as the British royal family, insignia, and ceremonies. We will then look at the mutually beneficial activities of the commonwealth such as sport, entertainment, music and media, education, trade, and literature, and we will complete the course by looking at the issue of diversity. Throughout the course we will discover the influences and connections between the Commonwealth and Japan.

Readings in British & American Culture [Spring]

The course is designed to expand students’ knowledge about cultural diversity in our globalized|world through the study of various ethnic groups in the U.S.A . In the process, the ideas of race,|ethnicity, and the discrimination will be examined. Students will be required to spend many hours|for reading outside of the classroom, participate in discussions, make individual/group|presentations, and write a research paper. The required readings will include both English and|Japanese material.

Global Society (Social Impact) [Spring]

Globalization exerts a great influence on mobility of human beings, goods and information, as well as economic activities. What happened in one region affects life and economic activities of people in another region through a complex process of cause and effect. Especially, regional conflicts and wars as well as environmental and economic issues cause serious problems among nations and ethnic groups. People in the world need to make efforts to build peace and foster mutual understanding by means of active communication among nations and ethnic and/or religious groups. One should endeavor to create effective ways of communication while mobilizing knowledge in various fields to this end.

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