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: firstname.lastname@example.org) to make sure that it will be offered. For prerequisites/eligibility requirements, please refer to the individual course descriptions.
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.
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.
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 15, we will have excursion to National Theater to see representative Japanese traditional theater, kabuki. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since the latter half of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century, Japan has undergone a number of significant changes, and is now heading for another new uncharted phase in the 21 century. The world has been marveled by the dramatic transformation which Japanese society and culture have shown and how Japanese people have coped with various challenges. The modern Japanese culture has also evolved through numerous interactions with other countries, and thus has become the rich and appealing culture it is today, while remaining still uniquely Japanese. This course will examine how the historical development (from the Meiji, Taisho and Showa era, and to the Heisei era) has influenced the daily living of ordinary Japanese people, investigating how their cognitive cultures (such as values/ norms/ ideologies …etc.) have emerged, and how their mass cultures and social trends are expressed in fashion, films, popular songs, foods, and other aspects of Japanese lifestyle through different generations. The course will also look at various impacts from overseas, as Japan is well known for her ability to insatiably borrow from foreign cultures and to create something uniquely Japanese in the end. The course will furthermore investigate Japan’s greatest challenge of the future: rapid population aging, which has never been witnessed in human history. One of the most important national issues being discussed today is how the greying of the population will transform this society and culture. Students’ strong interest in modern Japan’s sociocultural history and willingness to explore her/his own topic for an independent investigation is required.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.