Why Study Japanese at K?

Studying Japanese at K is an enriching experience thanks to immersive study abroad opportunities, small class sizes and engaging courses. 

Dr. Sugimori working with students

Housed within the East Asian Studies Department, the Japanese program teaches you about Japan’s rich history, culture and language. By the time you graduate, you will have been exposed to historical and modern Japanese literature and culture and understand the social and political influences that shaped them. 

You will learn about Japan through language classes—from beginner to advanced—and cultural and linguistic courses taught in English, such as Post-War Japanese Literature in Translation, Japanese Language in Society, and Manga/Anime and Gender in Modern Japan. 

For complete immersion into Japanese language and culture, you can take advantage of K’s stellar study abroad programs with opportunities to live, for one to three terms, in Hikone, Nagasaki, Kyoto or Tokyo, Japan. 

The robust education required for a minor in Japanese prepares students for careers in international relations, education and business. In fact, many of our alumni teach English in Japan or work for Japanese companies.  

Note: Students can only Minor in Japanese; if they choose to continue their studies, they can major in East Asian Studies. However, due to the significant overlap in their programs, a student cannot major in East Asian Studies and minor in Japanese or Chinese.

What can you do with a Japanese minor?

Below are some of the careers, employers, and graduate schools of our Japanese alumni.


  • English Teacher
  • Digital Marketing Specialist
  • Software Engineer


  • Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme
  • United Nations
  • Winrock International

Graduate Schools

  • University of Michigan
  • American University
  • University of Chicago

Program Spotlights

Two Japanese students teaching English at a Japanese elementary school

Personalized Japanese Study Abroad Programs 

As a Japanese language student, you may choose from any of the College’s 50+ study abroad programs, including five distinct options within Japan. Each program is tailored so that no matter your study abroad goals, there is an option suited for you: Dive deep into Japanese culture in Nagasaki, increase your fluency at Kyoto’s intensive language program, participate in an Integrative Cultural Project and research alongside faculty in Hikone, or stay with a host family in Tokyo, Japan’s capital.

Take a Deep Dive into Japanese Studies at the Nagai Kafu Lecture 

Named after the esteemed Japanese author who briefly attended Kalamazoo College in the early nineteen hundreds, the Nagai Kafu Lecture is an annual celebration of Japanese studies with guest speakers coming to campus to share their scholarship. The lecture provides you the opportunity to learn about aspects of Japanese culture, history, and writing from the field’s leading scholars. In 2022 Dr. Christina Laffin from the University of British Columbia spoke about Japanese women’s poetry in the tenth and twelfth centuries. 

poster for the Nagai Kafu lecture

Meet the Current Departmental Student Advisor

Olivia Wolfe

Olivia Wolfe (She/Her/Hers)

Majors: East Asian Studies

What is the best thing about being part of this department?

The sense of community and closeness with both professors and students.

What has been your favorite class at K? Why?

Japanese Science Fiction: It was so interesting to learn about specifically Japanese science fiction and I loved the stories that we read. Dr. White is an incredible professor as well and I had a lot of fun in his class.

How have you taken advantage of the open curriculum or experienced breadth in your education?

I have been able to take classes in many different departments over the course of my education, including economics, Spanish, ANSO [Anthropology and Sociology], and psychology. I’ve taken classes I wouldn’t normally think about taking but had the opportunity to experience because of the open curriculum.

What is your Senior Integrated Project (SIP)?

Translating one of Yoshiya Nobuko’s short stories from Japanese to English and investigating the impact her works had on Japanese fiction today.

Japanese Department News